Bannon the Barbarian
is back at
"Steve is now unchained"
"He's going nuclear"
Activist and Nobel
Malala Yousafzai wins place
to study PPE at Oxford
2017 August 20
Brexit — Legal Confusion?
Brexiteers vilify the European Court of
Justice (ECJ). But the ECJ in Luxembourg scored a win for the City
of London when it ruled that the ECB was wrong to insist that euro
clearing houses should be based in the EZ.
The European Court
of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg is the one that ruled on
prisoners' voting rights and that obstructed the path of UK efforts
to deport Abu Qatada.
Brexiteers hate letting a foreign court
tell British courts what to do. But the ECJ only interprets the
meaning of EU law. The UK courts apply that interpretation to the
Given the proximity of the UK customs union with the
EU customs union, any judgments of the ECJ on the EU customs union
will put UK courts under a strong obligation to interpret UK law in
the light of ECJ judgments.
After Brexit, any future ECJ
judgments will be drafted without the benefit of British judges
sitting on its bench and British lawyers arguing the case. The UK
has punched above its weight in getting its way — all that will be
2017 August 19
What the surfer knows, in knowing how to ride
a wave, bears on questions about freedom, control,
happiness, society, our relation to nature, the value of work, and
the meaning of life.
For someone to be surfing, three
conditions must be met:
1 He must be
attuned to a shifting phenomenon outside of himself, like a wave.
2 He must be adapting himself in
response to it, so as to be carried along by its propulsive forces.
3 He must be doing so intentionally and
for its own sake.
Adaptive attunement captures a meaningful
sense of freedom consistent with being trapped by the laws of
nature. Freedom is a matter of transcending your will and
accepting the exchange between what you intend to do and what you
are constrained to do by the forces around you. You take what the
wave gives you.
On my first retreat I had an experience
that bordered on hallucinogenic. At first I was, like, whoa. I mean,
this is my first retreat, right? And at first it's like red and
purple and I'm like: Whoa, this is a new place. What I observed was
actually in a sense that thought, except that what it looked like
was one entity saying it to another, and I realized it was kind of
like the inside of my mind.
Our ordinary way of seeing things
is pretty deeply confused. You have apprehensions that are quite
different from your ordinary way of experiencing things. Like you're
meditating on a retreat, and you feel that the tingling in your foot
is no more a part of you than a bird that's singing.
2017 August 18
Germany is a rich country, with the
highest income per head of the larger EU countries, comfortably
ahead of Britain, France, and Italy. Unemployment is the lowest in
But the disparities between rich and poor loom large
for many Germans, who have long believed they live in an
unusually fair society, after WW2 swept away old elites and left a
more equal country.
On household income, Germany is close to
the EU average. But on wealth, Germany is significantly less equal
than its EU peers. The gap has widened for the same reasons as
elsewhere — globalization and technological change.
than half of Germans own their own homes. The rest rent. The market
delivers affordable housing but discourages investment in home
— German state pensions are generous for most
people who are employed full-time for most of their working lives.
They are a reliable way of financing old age.
inheritance tax law favors business owners. The rules largely exempt
fortunes invested in productive companies as long as the heirs
promise to maintain jobs.
Parliamentary elections in
September offer Germans a chance to make their voices heard. SPD
leader Martin Schulz pledges to raise taxes on the well-paid to
finance tax cuts for those on lower incomes. Chancellor
Angela Merkel offers tax cuts for all, funded from the budget
Trump — Toast
Before composing his ode to the statues of
Confederate leaders, Donald Trump tore into two Republican senators
who had dared to criticize him for what he said about
Charlottesville. To get any trade or tax legislation through
Congress, the White House will need the overwhelming support of
Republicans in Congress. Even assuming that Trump will survive this
latest horror show, he has moved onto political ground that makes it
virtually impossible for other people to stand with him.
Steve Bannon — Fired
2017 August 17
We're at economic war with China. They're
not shy about saying what they're doing. One of us is going to be a
hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it's gonna be them if we go down this
path. On Korea, they're just tapping us along. It's just a sideshow.
There’s no military solution to North Korea,
forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows
me that 10 million people in Seoul don't die in the first 30 minutes
from conventional weapons, I don't know what you're talking about,
there's no military solution here, they got us.
To me, the
economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally
focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we're 5 years away, I
think, 10 years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from
which we'll never be able to recover.
Bacteria have a DNA repair mechanism
for when their genomes are damaged. Dozens of genes become active
and the rate of mutation goes up. The extra mutations are often
detrimental but they enable adaptation.
be a mechanism that drives more mutation in regions of the genome
where it could be most adaptive. DNA often contains multiple copies
of extended sequences of base pairs or genes because mistakes can
occur when cells replicate their DNA. If the replication mechanism
stalls, usually it can restart and pick up where it left off.
Sometimes it goes back to the beginning and accidentally deletes a
gene sequence or makes extra copies of it. Perhaps these copying
errors are more likely to hit genes that are actively responding to
This mechanism can arise entirely
through Darwinian selection of random mutations to give a process
that stimulates nonrandom mutations at useful sites.
HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in Portsmouth
— its F-35B aircraft have not yet been built
The US commander-in-chief
is giving succor to Neonazis.
democracy is heading
toward civil breakdown.
German GDP grew 0.6% in Q2
and 0.7% in Q1.
was in line with EZ average.
growth was 2.1%.
ING economist Carsten Brzeski:
"There is very
little reason to
fear a sudden end to the
"The only way to preserve
free and frictionless trade
European Union is
continued membership of
the customs union,
as the single market."
Americans believe in heaven
miracles. Surveys show
the reality-based community
minority in America.
Being American means
we can believe
No No To Nukes
The American public would
not stop a
using nuclear weapons in war. Under pressures like
facing President Harry Truman
in 1945, a clear majority
the public would support the
first use of nukes now,
it did then.
with 2 x Taurus
The ROK Air
attack NK hard targets with
Taurus KEPD 350, an
made in Germany
"Cometh the hour,
cometh the Mogg"
Rolf Peter Sieferle
2017 August 16
Charlottesville, Virginia, last Friday
night: White nationalists brandished torches, chanted Nazi slogans,
and waved a banner: "Jews are Satan's children."
Grand Wizard David Duke: "The truth is, the American media, and the
American political system, and the American Federal Reserve, is
dominated by a tiny minority: the Jewish Zionist cause .. We're
going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump."
luminary Richard Spencer mocked Charlottesville's Jewish mayor Mike
Signer: "Little Mayor Signer — 'See-ner' — how do you pronounce this
little creep's name?"
Crowd: "Jew, Jew, Jew."
I was not surprised to learn that Google
fired James Damore. I think he made a number of errors. Research on
differences in the sexes finds them to be quite small, and they do
not show women are less fitted for roles in technology and
The notion that there is something
right wing about discussing genes is ridiculous. What we are
learning about genes and behavior is a more serious challenge to the
right than to the left. There is a connection between genes and
No argument gets far by ignoring science and common
sense. Far from supporting racism, genetic research questions
whether race even exists. Debating the relationship between nature
and social outcomes helps us understand discrimination.
some people are naturally less able to make their way in the world
than others, then it may not be enough to allow equal opportunity.
Genes make the case for redistribution. Progressives need not fear
acknowledging the role of genes.
In Russia and Belarus, preparations are underway for
Zapad, a major military exercise to be held in September. Of all the
exercises in the Russian military calendar, quadrennial Zapad is the
one that most closely resembles practice for invading neighbors.
The United States, NATO, and states
bordering Russia will be watching closely to learn what they can
about the latest Russian capabilities and military procedures.
Russia has previously used the fact of troops on the move for
exercises to launch real military operations.
Belarus is an
ally of Russia but has no antagonism toward the West and wants
instead to remain neutral between Russia and NATO. The authorities
in Minsk have invited military observers and defense attachés from a
large number of countries and international organizations.
NATO states have made small temporary increases in defensive assets
in the Baltic states as a precaution.
The UK government Brexit paper on future
customs arrangements accepts the UK will need a transitional customs
union to avoid a catastrophic shock in March 2019. DExEU SoS David
Davis calls the lack of detail "constructive ambiguity".
maintain frictionless trade with the EU, the UK will need to
continue the regulation that underpins the single market. Beyond the
transition period, the plans envisage either a streamlined customs
arrangement using new technology or a new customs partnership that
can reliably track goods through international supply chains.
Commission says only membership of the customs union and single
market will deliver frictionless trade.
Brexit Britain — Urbane, Unhinged
Hollywood saw long ago that a British accent
makes a fine complement to evil villainy. The center ground of
British politics is gone. Beyond our shores, no one thinks Brexit is
consistent with the nobler traditions of British statecraft.
Tory radicals cast themselves as swashbuckling
adventurers, freeing the UK to find riches on the high seas. But
another archetype casts Brexiteers as fanatics urging chaos in
honeyed tones, sheathing villainy in gentility.
AR Beware the Mogg.
2017 August 15
Have Cake And Eat It
The UK government will seek a temporary deal
with the EU for a few years after Brexit.
A deal with the EU
to retain the benefits of customs union for a transitional period
would give businesses and officials time to gear up for a new
customs regime and give the UK time to strike new trade deals with
non-EU countries. During the transition Britain would not be party
to the EU treaties.
The EU will have to decide whether it
would accept such an arrangement.
No Right Case For Brexit
Jacob Rees-Mogg is an authentic
reactionary. A rampant Brexiteer and a Trump defender, he is a
hard-right Tory, from climate-change denial to praise for disability
cuts, from attacking the BBC to abhorrence of regulation.
wants to cut taxes. He says this brings in more revenue: "Generally
people will spend their own money more effectively than the
government, and there is no money at all except that earned by the
Wrong. We need a strong state to guarantee
property rights, basic public services for the workforce, and so on.
Try running a business in a failed state.
No Left Case For Brexit
If Labour supporters want a glimpse of what their
2017 election manifesto would look like in practice, they only need
to cross the Channel.
In France, university tuition is funded
by the taxpayer. In Portugal and Slovakia, domestic energy consumers
enjoy price caps. In Germany, there is a network of public savings
banks. In Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Austria, train
companies are public. In Luxembourg and Belgium, there are no
zero-hour contracts. In Sweden and Denmark, the state takes half of
national income in tax.
The EU is a bastion of social
democracy. The Leftist case for Brexit is flimsy. The idea that
the EU is a neoliberal project is daft.
AR No good case on either side for Brexit.
2017 August 14
America — Locked and Loaded
Donald Trump's threats that North Korea
risks fire and fury from a locked and loaded America put American
credibility on the line and prompts escalation by the Kim Jong Un
regime. He is flirting with a pre-emptive strike on North Korea. All
previous presidents have rejected pre-emptive attacks on
The crisis that Trump is stoking is
increasingly inseparable from the domestic problems besieging his
administration. The investigation by Robert Mueller into Russian
intervention in the US election is getting ever closer to the Trump
inner circle. Congress is deadlocked and the White House is a hive
of sackings and scheming.
The idea that the threat of war
could lead Americans to rally around the president should sound
alarm bells for anyone with a sense of history. Governments facing a
domestic crisis are often more inclined to adventurism abroad.
Leaders under severe domestic political pressure are also more
likely to behave irrationally.
James Damore: "Philosophically, I don't
think we should do arbitrary social engineering of tech just to make
it appealing to equal portions of both men and women."
engineer in Google, Damore wrote a memo full of of bad science and
biological determinism. He said women are intrinsically different to
men, with more openness, interest in people over things, preference
for social and artistic work, neuroticism and anxiety, and so on.
Science is a slow process, not a growing string of truths.
Damore portrays women as a product of inherited traits without
social and cultural influence. His assertions presume gender
identity happens in a cultural vacuum.
Damore: "We ask why we
don't see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we
see so many men in these jobs, These positions often require long,
stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and
Men do not have biological predisposition
toward stressful hours any more than women do. A balanced and
fulfilling life is different if you do most of the domestic labor
and child rearing. An aggressively masculine "bro" culture makes
those long office hours even worse.
Free the Queen!
Britain's most troubled family is way past its sell-by date and
living on borrowed time. We should consign the UK to the dustbin of
history and embrace the future as the British Republic.
Ending the monarchy is not the most pressing challenge confronting
these islands. Yet in its own little way the dusty institution is a
block to decency and progress. Royal inherited wealth and habits of
deference give respectability to unearned riches and grotesque
Criticism of royalty is not
treason. In an age of austerity there are better
ways to spend £369 million than tarting up Buckingham Palace. The
royals live in a gilded cage — free them!
2017 August 13
Conservatism is the attempt to conserve our community in all
matters that ensure our long-term survival and mutual support.
Peace, security, democracy, and historic liberties all depend on
a shared sense of belonging among strangers whom we can trust; on
traditions of education, cooperation, and compromise; on the
Christian legacy of neighbourly love and a tradition of tolerance.
They depend upon institutions and forms of life that are the legacy
of our attempts to live together as a nation on our island.
Changes have occurred that can unwind those relations of dependence:
● The mass immigration of
communities who define their political membership in religious
rather than secular terms
● The transfer of sovereignty
from parliament to unelected officials in foreign countries
and foreign courts of law
● The disruption of the common
law by the abolition of the tutelary office of lord chancellor
and the creation of a supreme court
● The assault on national
unity caused by creating a Scottish parliament while leaving the
English with no assembly of their own
politicians have a duty to articulate the idea of a diverse but
unified civil society and its corporate persona. We have blundered
into a condition of mass immigration with no philosophy to justify
the attempt to limit it.
In the Brexit vote, the only ideas
that emerged were economic, as though the "we" of national
sovereignty were merely a matter of being as wealthy as we possibly
can. Reducing every question to economics is the fundamental error
of the Marxists.
Jacob Rees-Mogg is an unlikely outsider. His
old-world civility does not suggest much appeal to young voters. But
at 48 he is social-media savvy and benefits from suggestions that
the Conservatives should skip a generation.
As a constituency MP I am always seeking to
represent the people remote from the centres of power, rather than
the interests of lobby groups.
The problem with the European
Union is we can be outvoted by a qualified majority vote and
therefore laws can be passed that the British people have not only
not consented to but have opposed. Some Remoaners think that the
people that voted for Brexit were all stupid.
back-bench MP. My ambition is to be re-elected in North East
Somerset. It would be unrealistic of me to have further ambitions.
I'm very interested in political ideas, developing Conservative
thinking, and I'm very keen that we should have a positive message
My family is the most important thing. I've
got six lovely, delightful children. I'm very lucky. I have a
wonderful wife who looks after us all.
Jacob Rees-Mogg is a reactionary with the intellectual
nimbleness of a top QC and the opinions of a Colonel Blimp. On
Europe, his instincts would take Britain crashing out with no deal
A British Crisis
Britain is suffering a governability
crisis. The implementation of the EU referendum decision has been
rash and chaotic. The EU is a coalition of democratic states which
pledge to advance human rights, the rule of law, and democratic
rules. That is the team to be in.
2017 August 12
Loosely translated, ikigai is your
purpose in life, from the Japanese iki (to live) and
It's your reason for getting up in the morning.
An ikigai is something that gives you pleasure and purpose —
walking the dog, drinking green tea, or writing a book.
Memory of Justice is a long (2 h 38 m) documentary directed by
Marcel Ophuls about wartime atrocities that has rarely been seen
since 1976. In it, the Nazi leaders, one after the other, declared
their innocence in the Nuremberg courtroom; Yehudi Menuhin said he
assumed every human being was guilty; and Telford Taylor, US counsel
for the prosecution at Nuremberg, asked how any of us would cope
with the degeneration of standards under pressure.
a superb interviewer, often skeptical, never moralistic or
aggressive. Perhaps his most disturbing interview was with Otto
Kranzbühler, who was defense counsel for Admiral Dönitz at Nuremberg
and later had a successful career as a corporate lawyer. Kranzbühler
said of the Third Reich: if you were ignorant of what went on, you
were a fool; if you knew, but looked the other way, you were a
coward; if you knew, and took part, you were a criminal.
AR I watched (parts of) a serialization
of the movie on TV in Germany (or the whole of a short cut —
2017 August 11
UK Homeless Crisis
UK homelessness is rising. Unless changes
are made, the number of people made homeless in Britain will double
to 575,000 by 2041. Homelessness has already doubled since 2010.
When local council budgets were cut,
housing support services suffered. When housing benefit was removed
for young people, many were forced onto the streets. When a cap was
imposed on the maximum amount a household can receive in welfare,
housing benefit was cut.
The charity Crisis suggests remedial
— A 60% increase in new housing
— Adequate funding
for local councils
— Mental health support for rough sleepers
We must press the government to address the crisis.
UK Rental Crisis
Millions of UK tenants are living in homes
that contain dangerous safety hazards and are unfit for habitation.
Over a quarter of homes rented from private landlords fail to meet
the national Decent Homes Standard.
English Housing Survey data reveals 795,000 homes rented from
private landlords currently contain hazards such as dangerous
boilers, exposed wiring, overloaded electricity sockets, and vermin
Private landlords are significantly worse at
maintaining their properties than homeowners or social housing
providers and are more than twice as likely as social landlords to
be renting out a property containing a serious safety hazard.
Local councils are struggling. LGA housing spokesman Martin
Tett: "Councils need more resources from government to help councils
build more homes for rent, supported by adequate infrastructure and
services, and incentives to help raise standards in the private
Private rents have risen by 22% since 2010.
Between a third and a half of renting households say they struggle
to pay their rent each month. Yet they are fearful of voicing
concerns. Over 50,000 private renting households were put at risk of
eviction in 2016, and almost 20,000 private renting households were
evicted by bailiffs.
A government spokesman: "While the
number of homes failing to meet the Decent Homes Standard has gone
down since 2007, we know there's more to do."
Brexit Bill — Liberty Loss
Britons will lose their right to sue the government for breaking
the law over air pollution. At present an ECJ ruling enables
citizens to sue member states for damages if their rights are
infringed by a failure to implement EU law.
A proposal in the EU repeal bill would invalidate claims
against the government for failing to enforce EU air pollution
standards. At present the government is potentially liable under
what is known as the Francovich ruling.
A clause in the
repeal bill: "There is no right in domestic law on or after exit day
to damages in accordance with the rule in Francovich."
Liberty director Martha Spurrier: "Putting the government above the
law renders our legal protections meaningless. It exposes a clear
agenda to water down our rights after Brexit."
AR Strong state — cowed citizens
become bullets and bombs devotedly defending respected Supreme
Leader Comrade Kim Jong Un!"
Pyongyang, August 9
"They will be met with fire
and fury like the
has never seen"
Donald Trump, 2017
"They may expect a rain
from the air,
the like of which has
never been seen"
Harry Truman, 1945
Lofoten Links, Norway
lässt das deutsche
"To Irish republicans, Brexit
is a golden opportunity for
Irish taoiseach Leo Varadkar
says Brexit is the challenge
our generation: "We will do all
we can, in Brussels, in London,
and in Dublin, to achieve the
best outcome for everyone
The Lovell radio telescope at
is 60 years old
Dow Jones index over
Apple valued at $827 billion
Ripples in Spacetime
Schilling, Martin Rees
The Laser Interferometer
(LIGO) was conceived decades
bankrolled by the NSF.
By 2015, about a thousand
working on the project, racking
up costs of more
than a billion
dollars. LIGO detected waves
from colliding black
2015 and announced the
discovery in 2016.
As an undergraduate at
Cambridge, Ramsey befriended
from German into English and
Cambridge. Ramsey proved his
theorem as a lemma
along the way to solving a
special case of
problem for first-order logic.
Ramsey died in 1930,
2017 August 10
Korea and the Kim dynasty are standing up to
a powerful and menacing foreign enemy. Nukes are needed to repel
this threat. Kim Jong Un is the anointed defender of all Koreans,
the purest of all races.
The NK regime plans to
use large numbers of nuclear weapons against US forces throughout
Japan and South Korea to blunt an invasion. NK leaders hope that by
inflicting mass casualties and destruction in the early days of a
conflict, they can force US-SK leaders to recoil from their
America has four broad options for dealing with
An all-out US-SK attack would defeat NK military forces and topple
the Kim dynasty. It would be the most massive US military attack
since the first Korean war and would likely trigger one of the worst
mass killings in human history. It would depend on surprise and
speed — but the Kim dynasty has been on the alert for three
generations. Even if the strike succeeded, it would cause the
largest humanitarian crisis of modern times.
Punishment. The US response to the next NK
provocation could be sharp enough to set back the regime but not
massive. Key to a limited strike is the pause that comes after. Kim
and his generals would have time to think. But once the shooting
starts, containing it may be difficult. Even if Kim did perceive
limited intent in a first strike, he would correctly see it as an
assault on his nuclear arsenal and a step on a road to regime
change. He would expect a wider war.
US and SK troops recently rehearsed a strike to remove the NK
wartime command structure. The US-SK war plan calls for strikes
targeting NK leaders. But decapitation would be a huge gamble.
4 Acceptance. There are
no good military options. Pyongyang is constrained by the same logic
that has stayed the use of nuclear arms for some 70 years. It is
hard to imagine Pyongyang disarming anytime soon, but creating a
framework that makes it conceivable is the only sensible way
2017 August 9
The New York Times
draft report by scientists from 13 US federal agencies, not yet
made public, concludes that the average temperature in the United
States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, and recent
decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years.
report concludes that even if humans immediately stopped emitting
greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the world would still feel at
least an additional 0.3 K of warming over this century compared with
today. The projected actual rise will be 2 K.
directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his
cabinet who say that the human contribution to climate change is
uncertain. Scientists say they fear that the Trump administration
could change or suppress the report.
How The Moon Was Made
Some 4.5 Gy ago, the young
Sun was surrounded by a hot, donut-shaped cloud of debris. This
stuff swirled around, cooling and combining into clumps, then
planetesimals, then planets. These bodies frequently collided and
vaporized one another anew, until the Earth and the Moon were
Theia, a body the size of Mars, collided with Earth.
The collision produced a disk around the Earth that cooled and
solidified to form the Moon. Simulations show Theia could shear away
enough of Earth and scramble enough of both to build a Moon and
Earth with similar isotopic ratios.
Simon Lock and Sarah
Stewart say every bit of Earth and Theia vaporized and formed a
bagel-shaped cloud they call a synestia. The cloud spun so fast that
it became a fat disk circling an inner region. The fat disk was a
cloud of molten rock that eventually cooled to form the Moon.
The Moon is unique in the solar system in having about 1% the
mass of Earth and 80% of the angular momentum of the Earth—Moon
system. Perhaps the Moon was formed by at least a dozen projectiles
coming in from multiple angles and speeds to form moonlets that then merged.
North Korean Nukes
North Korea has successfully produced a
miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, says
a new analysis by the US Defense Intelligence Agency.
North Korean military threat is advancing rapidly. US officials say
Pyongyang is outpacing expectations in its effort to build an ICBM
capable of striking cities on the US mainland.
Ministry of Defense also concludes there is evidence to suggest that
North Korea has achieved miniaturization.
Taking Down Kim
It would be easy for the United States to
take out the entire North Korean leadership with a special
operations unit. The intelligence capability and the special ops
capability we have today is incredible. Most people have no idea how
effective we are at conducting these missions.
and special ops community constantly rehearse scenarios — Delta
Night Stalker helicopters could do a high altitude, high opening
parachute op from across the border of South Korea, and then fly
under the canopy, undetected — all sorts of scenarios.
Tories Holding Out for a Hero
Ruth Davidson is a gay kick-boxer from a Scottish comprehensive
who once praised Attlee socialism and now leads the Conservative
party in Scotland. Jacob Rees-Mogg went to Eton and Oxford, got rich
in the City, and is now a backbench Conservative MP. She backed
Remain, he backed Leave.
Both have more popularity within the
party than its leadership. Davidson regularly tops a monthly league
ConservativeHome. Rees-Mogg says he will not stand, but he would
have come second this month if he had. Scores of party members wrote
in his name when they responded.
2017 August 8
To Be Or Not To Be
A cognitive bias hinders our moral
cognition. The phenomenal states of sentient beings on Earth are
much more frequently characterized by suffering and frustration than
these beings can see for themselves.
Analyzing the facts, an
ethical superintelligence concludes that it should minimize
consciously experienced frustration, pain, and suffering. It knows
that no entity can suffer from its own nonexistence and that
naturally evolved biological creatures are unable to realize this
fact because of their firmly anchored existence bias. It decides to
There are no moral facts. We have evolved
desires, subjective preferences, and we experience interests.
Evolution made us efficient, but the overall process is blind to our
own interests. We have deep seated moral intuitions, for example
that pleasure is good and pain is bad.
superintelligence respects these moral intuitions and tries to find
an optimal way of making them consistent. But this does not imply
direct access to a mysterious realm of higher moral truths. It just
means that the system, given all available data, tries to find out
what is in our own best interest.
Maybe meditation or future
neurotechnology could help us to make our lives worth living.
Conceivably, it could help us in giving our lives a positive overall
balance, or even liberate us from the burden of our biological past.
But even if all the billions of human beings on this planet were
turned into vegan Buddhas, the problem of wild animal suffering
A fully rational superintelligence would never
have a problem with ending its own existence. But most human beings
could never accept any such insight, no matter how good the
arguments of their artificial moral reasoner were. Homo sapiens
would declare war against a compassionate anti-natalist
Human life is one big uphill battle. Yet
we will do almost anything to prolong our own existence, even if it
violates rationality constraints. This is a biological imperative
that has been burned into our nervous systems over millennia — the
Buddha called it the craving for existence.
AR Thomas seemed cheerier than this at
Joe Polchinski won the 2017
Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for transformative
advances in quantum field theory, string theory, and quantum
Polchinski, 63, has worked at the Kavli Institute
for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa
Barbara, for 25 years. He authored the seminal 1998 textbook
Polchinski: "The first thing to know is
that the two great theories of physics (quantum mechanics and
general relativity) work very well in most circumstances, but in
extremes like the beginning of the Big Bang we do not know how to
fit them together. Black holes are a great testing ground for this.
The firewall paradox seems to say that one of the two theories must
be modified, and that the result is that the black hole interior is
replaced by a wall of quantum bits."
If our Hubble bubble is bounded by a wall of qubits (recall
Maldacena, blog 2017-06-25) then it seems black holes must have
2017 August 7
The migrant crisis of the past few years has been a lesson in
the dangers of allowing heart to overrule head. From the German
welcome policy to the NGO boats searching the Mediterranean for
migrants to rescue, humanitarian compassion has escalated the
The line between refugees and economic migrants is
increasingly blurred. The top three home nations of those arriving
in Italy in the first quarter of this year were Nigeria, Bangladesh,
and Guinea. UN figures suggest that 7 in 10 who have come to Libya
are escaping poverty.
Most will sympathise with those who
yearn to escape poverty. But behind every one who makes it to Italy
are many more who are emboldened to set out on the same journey. The
most sensible strategy is to improve life in the poorest countries
and so weaken the desire to migrate.
Migrants know that once
rescued in the Mediterranean, passage to mainland Europe is assured.
The UN defines an asylum-seeker as anyone with a well-founded fear
of persecution in their own country. Smartphones let migrants learn
their rights under international law.
Development aid can be a good investment — better than buying
patrol warships that no sane government would allow to sink migrant
boats on sight.
2017 August 6
Machines of Loving Grace
Artificial intelligence and robotics research
is transforming our world. New machines will wipe out millions of
jobs. The Internet of Things is a whole new way for bad things to
AI systems have already infiltrated the military,
financial transactions, and the internet. We are now surrounded by
machines that in many ways are more competent than we are. A
high-end car runs with well over 100 million lines of computer code
— with more to come in self-driving cars.
Regardless of moral
and ethical concerns, Beijing proposes to lock everybody in China
into a social credit system by 2020. Algorithms will log and assess
all web user actions to calculate credit scores. Score high and
prosper, score low and despair.
Plans for robot nurses,
carers, and teachers often raise safety issues as acute as for cars.
Tell an AI carer always to do what is best for the patient and it
may well decide to kill them. Program them not to kill people and
they may simply decide we are wrong.
Silicon Valley believers
say we will engineer the Singularity. A super-intelligent machine
will make itself ever more intelligent and solve all our problems.
If we avoid catastrophe we can enter a kind of paradise watched over
machines of loving grace.
2017 August 5
Memo to Mike Pence
You occupy an unusual position in the
American constitution. You are the only member of the executive
branch whom Donald Trump cannot fire. You do not serve at the
pleasure of the president.
Start acting like a potential successor. It will let you emerge as a
leader not hopelessly tainted by your origin story. Put meaningful
distance between yourself and Trump. Act with the deliberation and
integrity and dignity of a president.
Do not allow an administration unrivaled in its mendacity to make a
liar out of you. Refuse to make any factual representations to the
American people that you have not independently verified and are not
prepared to stand behind.
Reaffirm, wherever possible, your commitment to and faith in all of
our three branches of government.
Study the example of Gerald Ford, who became president with the
resignation of Richard Nixon on August 9, 1974.
Memo to Theresa May
In October I will sit around the European Council table with 26
other prime ministers and we will decide together whether sufficient
progress has been made to allow the Brexit negotiations to proceed.
I do not underestimate the challenge.
If the United Kingdom does not want to stay in the customs union,
perhaps there can be an EU-UK customs union.
2 If the UK does not want to stay in the
single market perhaps it could enter into a deep free trade
agreement with the EU and rejoin EFTA, of which it was a member
prior to accession.
3 And if this
cannot be agreed now, then perhaps we can have a transition period
during which the UK stays in the single market and customs union
while these things are worked out.
These are the practical
solutions I am proposing.
The Next Big Thing
Apple augmented reality will launch next month
with the latest version of iOS for iPhones and iPads. ARKit
technology turns a combination of computer vision, tracking sensors,
and mapping software into something that can be incorporated into
Apple could become the first American business to be
valued above $1 trillion. But it is 10 years since the launch of the
first iPhone. The company faces speculation about where to go next.
Apple has begun to place bets on a wide range of markets. A
pair of AR glasses might move cameras, sensors, and screens from the
smartphone to the face. Apple is experimenting with prototypes.
Apple designers and engineers are content to wait for the right
moment to launch a new product. They can move quickly when the
moment arrives. App developers say AR could become the next big
computing platform after smartphones.
is next — see GOD
2017 August 4
Brexit Referendum 2
Britain is negotiating for a free trade
agreement in a hard Brexit. A trade agreement would probably have to
be ratified unanimously by the European Council, by a majority in
the European Parliament, and by 27 national and 11 regional
The June election result reopens the issue of
Europe for four reasons:
is probably no Commons majority for a hard Brexit. There is probably
a stronger representation of Remain MPs in parliament today than
before the election.
gains raise the question of whether the decision in the 2016
referendum is final. A study found the Labour soft Brexit policy lay
behind its big gain in votes. The election was the revenge of the
3 The election
intensifies internal divisions in both major parties. If the deal is
too hard, Conservative Remainers may join with their opposition
counterparts to defeat it, too soft and Tory hardliners could reject
it. There may be no majority for any form of Brexit on offer.
4 The House of Lords may reject hard
Brexit, saying a minority government has no mandate for it.
With a deadlocked parliament, the possibility of a bad deal, and
both parties deeply divided on Europe, the best way out may be a
second referendum. Brexit raises existential issues for the future
of the UK. The final deal needs the consent not only of parliament,
but of a sovereign people.
people wanted Brexit: You can't always get what you want — Mick
Theresa May set out the hard Brexit policy
of leaving the customs union and the single market in January.
Before then, the working Whitehall assumption had been the UK would
seek to stay in both, like Norway or Switzerland.
customs union and the single market requires the UK by March 2019 to
negotiate new trade treaties with the EU27 and with the 75
other nations with which the EU has trade
agreements. These 102 countries account for more than
60% of UK exports of goods and services.
British trade is
already global — helped, not hindered, by being part of the EU
customs union. There are a few large markets with which the EU does
not have trade agreements. The new Department for International
Trade (DIT) is building up its negotiating capacity from scratch.
AR No deals mean barriers at the
borders — FUK.
Yuval Noah Harari
Some time before the ninth century CE,
a script was invented to store and process mathematical data with
unprecedented efficiency. This partial script, composed of numerals
from 0 to 9, was invented by Hindus and promoted by Arabs. The basis
for modern mathematics came into being.
This system of
writing has become the world's dominant language. Almost all states,
companies, organizations, and institutions use mathematical script
to record and process data. A person who wishes to influence their
big decisions must learn to speak in numbers.
now given us a script consisting of only 0 and 1. Our computers have
trouble understanding our minds, so we are learning to talk, feel,
and dream in the language of computers. A new kind of intelligence
is emerging, based solely on bits.
When I find myself in times of trouble, mathematics comes to
2017 August 3
War Against North Korea
US Republican Lindsey Graham quoted Donald Trump as saying
"there will be a war with North Korea if they continue to try to hit
America" with an ICBM: "He has told me that. I believe him .. If
there's going to be a war .. it will be over there. If thousands
die, they're going to die over there."
Brexit Reveals UK Flaws
Brexit is being mismanaged. More than a year
after the referendum, the cabinet still cannot agree on what kind of
Brexit it wants, or when. HMS UK is steaming toward yet another
Brexit reveals three enduring flaws in UK
1 Running a country
on rhetoric. Brexit was made about 30 years ago at the Oxford Union
— Oxford university's version of a children's parliament, which
organises witty debates, and where future Brexiteers such as Boris
Johnson and Michael Gove were presidents. In Britain, humour is used
to cut off conversations before they can get emotional, boring, or
technical. Tasking Brexiteers with managing Brexit was like asking
the winners of a debating contest to engineer a spaceship.
2 Ruling class insularity. The present
cabinet of mostly former public schoolboys don't want Brussels
running Britain. That's their caste's prerogative. Because the
referendum skated over boring policy stuff, cabinet ministers are
discovering only now the UK will pay the EU a large divorce bill.
3 Delusions of grandeur. Britain
became a great power because it pioneered the fossil-fuel economy
and because being an island was excellent protection when states
still invaded each other. Neither advantage exists any more. Britain
today is like a cute little bonobo ape that thinks it's a gorilla.
The updated strategy is America First, Britain Second — praying that
Donald Trump will reward fealty with a sweetheart trade deal.
Britain ignores its genuine strengths. Almost all its clever
people are mere spectators at the Brexit slapstick. Westminster
insularity had previously enabled the financial crisis. The ruling
rhetoricians treated the City as a magic money tree, until in 2007
the tree fell down and hit the country.
AR Some nice rhetoric there.
Mit Abgas in den Abgrund
Autohersteller sind angeschlagen, ihre Diesel-Verkäufe sinken
dramatisch. Mit dem Gipfel sollte hektisch Vertrauen zurückgewonnen
werden, doch das Gegenteil ist der Fall. So ist die Branche dem
AR Uups — ich
fahre ein BMW Diesel-Auto.
2017 August 2
The New York Times
The Trump administration's approach to the North Korean nuclear threat is
failing. It was all about putting the responsibility on China to
force the North to abandon its program.
China has held back. The Chinese fear
the NK regime could
collapse, sending millions of refugees fleeing across the border and
effectively handing power over the peninsula to US ally South Korea.
The Trump administration has not given up on China. But
sanctions alone are not the answer. Some experts suggest an NK nuclear and missile
freeze in return for limits on
US-SK military exercises.
The administration awaits a "tangible signal" that
NK will abandon its nuclear
program before talks begin. This is not realistic. Talks should
begin without preconditions.
It could be worth a trillion dollars to resolve this peacefully.
Terrorism is seen for the first time
as the most important issue facing the EU.
Trust in the EU and in national parliaments and
governments has increased.
Europeans trust the EU more than
national parliaments and governments.
● 4 in 10 Europeans have a
positive image of the EU
● 2 in 10 have a negative
image of the EU.
● More than 4 in 10 Europeans
consider that their voice counts in the EU.
● More than half of Europeans
disagree that their voice counts in the EU.
● Well over half of Europeans
are optimistic about the future of the EU.
● Absolute majorities of
Europeans support EU priorities and common policies.
● More than 8 in 10
respondents are in favor of free movement of EU citizens.
● More than two-thirds support
a common European policy on migration.
● 6 in 10 are for European
economic and monetary union and a single currency.
● In the EZ nearly
support the euro.
Absolute majorities of Europeans feel
attached to the EU and to Europe.
More than two-thirds of
Europeans feel they are citizens of the EU.
AR The UK is down with Greece and
Hungary in the national breakdowns.
A UK collaboration has built a quantum
gravimeter that uses cold atoms to make precise measurements of
gravitational field strength. It could be used to survey for oil or
minerals, and it may be the start of a new market for quantum
The gravimeter senses subtle changes in the strength
of ambient gravitational fields. It holds clouds of rubidium atoms
in superposition in a vacuum chamber cooled to 80 microkelvin. To
make a measurement, it drops them and zaps them in free fall with
three laser pulses. These produce an interference pattern encoding
the position and paths of the clouds.
Two atom clouds falling
at different speeds would indicate a change in the density of the
ground below, for example due to the presence of oil or minerals.
Quantum effects are sensitive, so the device must be carefully
shielded and cooled.
Glasgow photonics company M Squared
founder and CEO Graeme Malcolm: "I think we're just at the early
stage of commercial adoption of quantum technologies."
AR My essay on quantum theory is on hold
as I study QFT.
2017 August 1
Eurasia This Century
Republic of China and the European Union are the leading political
agents on Earth for global organization. China's road and belt
strategy and the EU vision of a federalized Europe centered on
Germany are the most promising steps in the direction of developing
an integrated social and business model across the supercontinent,
from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts.
America can be part
of this vision only after the US experiment with populist democracy
has run its course and the US global hegemony has been replaced by a
more globalist strategic order. A joint push from China and Europe
can nudge Russia into reforms that help it support wider order. A
Eurasian order can subsume Islam and other traditions in a social
Science is the enabler for the new vision.
A scientific view of the universe and the emergence of life is a
backdrop to a view of human duty as to ensure that the human
footprint on Earth properly reflects the glory we wish to associate
with our memory as deep time swallows up the human legacy. Due
respect for science and measured cultivation of technology express
The globalist vision will center on planetary
management for human flourishing in a sustainable environment. Big
business corporations will share the vision as a precondition for
long term success as providers of specialist services on a global
scale. The legal and regulatory environment will claim global scope
and seek to integrate outlier regimes as harmoniously as possible.
Globorg Is Great!
Borders of Infinity
Keita Yokoyama and Ludovic Patey have proved a
major statement about the finite-infinite divide. The boundary separates two
kinds of mathematical statements: finitistic ones, which can be
proved without invoking infinity, and infinitistic ones, which
presume that infinite objects exist.
understanding this division is at the heart of mathematical logic.
It leads directly to questions of mathematical objectivity, the
meaning of infinity, and the relationship between mathematics and
The new proof settles a question about Ramsey's Theorem for pairs —
RT22 is finitistically reducible. The argument in RT22 can be
used to prove new facts in finitistic mathematics.
Imagine an infinite set of objects, such as the set of all natural
numbers. Now pair each object in the set one by one with all other
objects. Color each pair of objects either red or blue according to
some rule. When you are done, RT22 states that at least one of the
(all red or all blue) subsets will be infinite (color can be any
We are now free to use this result to prove
statements in finitistic mathematics. All the finitistic
consequences of RT22 are guaranteed to be provable in a finitistic
Frank Ramsey used infinitistic methods to
partition infinite sets at will. David Hilbert challenged us to prove that set theory and all of infinitistic mathematics is
finitistically reducible, and therefore trustworthy. Then Kurt Gödel
proved that no system of logical axioms powerful enough to include
elementary arithmetic can ever prove its own consistency, so to
prove that a system of logic is consistent, you need another axiom
from outside the system — end of Hilbert's program.
and Yokoyama showed that RT22 is equal in logical strength to
primitive recursive arithmetic, and therefore finitistically
reducible. They modeled the infinite (red or blue) set of pairs in
RT22 using a finite set whose elements are nonstandard models of the
natural numbers. They then translated the question of the strength
of RT22 into the size of the finite set in their model.
Numerous finitistic statements about natural numbers are now known
to be expressible in primitive recursive arithmetic. They are thus
certain to be logically consistent.
for talk is over"
US ambassador to the UN
"must decide if it is finally
willing to take this
of challenging Pyongyang.
More than half the parts in an
average car built
in the UK last
year were imported. A triumph
of modern supply
will be a liability after Brexit.
would cut British
exports and raise the cost
of cars in the
Classic Rock Review
— Beatles sang
"All you need is love"
Khan We Do It?
London mayor Sadiq Khan
wants the UK to stay
in the EU
and proposes a pledge:
"For it to have credibility
with the British public, there
would have to be a Labour
have to spell out in
black and white what we'd
do if we won the
election. What could trump
the referendum result is us
having a manifesto offer
saying we would not leave
the EU or we
a second referendum."
Modern Neuroscience in Action
Natural History Museum, Oxford
2017-03-10 — 2018-01-01
Me in 2008
Top — Not!
was the richest man
in the world for a few hours.
He was worth about $90
billion thanks to a rise in the valuation
of the Amazon group to
$500 billion. Then came news
of a drop in Q2 profits.
Matilda II tank
it's the USA here ..
understand that you chose
to split up with the EU ..
To be honest, some think
pandering to a part
of you that blames anybody
things go wrong.
So, I am asking you to do
rethink this whole thing.
Just to be clear, we'll
still be friends ..
But if you leave for the
reasons you have stated,
you will not be respected
for many years
Royal Navy, 1940
1939: RN had
80 cruisers, ..
1945: RN had 16 battleships,
52 carriers, 62 cruisers,
257 destroyers, ..
Protesters in Lodz on Sunday
North Sea Empire
Scandinavian invaders first
England in 981 CE. In
1009 an army took Canterbury
pillaged the south coast.
In 1010 it laid waste to
Swen Forkbeard landed in 1013
His son Cnut the Great ruled
from 1013 to
1035 as king of
Denmark, England and Norway
— the North
The Third Reich staged
as the ultimate work of art
Christopher Nolan in
Dunkirk last Sunday
A Celebration of
Science and Reason
New York City
My First Six Months
An Inconvenient Sequel:
Truth to Power
AL GORE 2020
William und Kate
Am zweiten Tag ihrer
Prinz William und seine Frau
Kate in Heidelberg.
Sie besuchten das Deutsche
Gegen Abend ging sie
zurück nach Berlin.
AR Es war schön,
2017 July 31
China's Centenary Goals
Speaking at a reception to mark the 90th
anniversary of People's Liberation Army in London, Chinese
ambassador Liu Xiaoming said China aims to build its armed forces to
provide a strong safeguard as it strives to realize the dream of
The Chinese Communist Party was founded in
2021 and the People's Republic of China established in 2049. The
centenary goals are that by 2021, China will be economically secure
and by 2049, it will be a strong, democratic, civilized, harmonious,
and modern socialist country.
China aims to ensure its
defense force meets the need of protecting its security and
development interests. In recent decades, China's military
expenditure accounted for 1.32% of GDP.
China pursues a
concept focused on common, comprehensive, cooperative, and
sustainable security. China will make great efforts to advance
international cooperation on military and security, and will play an
active and leading role in international peacekeeping and
China is the largest contributor of
peacekeepers among the five permanent members of the UN Security
Council. China is also the second largest contributor to the UN
FUK No Tax Haven — Hammond
Le Monde, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said: "I
often hear it said that the UK is considering participating in
unfair competition in regulation and tax. That is neither our plan
nor our vision for the future. The amount of tax we raise as a
percentage of our GDP puts us right in the middle of the pack. We
don't want that to change, even after we've left the EU. I would
expect us to remain a country with a social, economic and cultural
model that is recognisably European."
not have parliamentary support for changing the British economic
model by slashing taxes and regulation.
The Brexit narrative uses memories of
WW2 movies in which plucky Brits won the day and sundry foreigners
were put in their place.
does not identify a human enemy. The soldiers show a range of human
qualities, bravery and cowardice, strength and weakness, uncertainty
and confidence, pluck and despair — no innate British superiority,
just a lot of human beings scrambling their way through visceral
The moving spirit of the event depicted has nothing
to do with battle and everything to do with generosity, with unarmed
sailors saving strangers who needed to be saved. All you can see in
hundreds of small boats is humility, gentleness, and sympathy. There
can be no fit memorial to those who gave their lives but near
infinite generosity between those who survived.
refugees, in the evacuation of the French from the beaches, Brits
had no thought of breaching a yearly migration target. A moviegoer
may consider the horrors that would otherwise have ensued and
conclude that maybe offering sanctuary in the service of humanity is
a good thing.
Thanks to the EU, Europeans have been at peace
with each other for 70 years. The right response to Brexit
bellicosity is Dunkirk spirit.
2017 July 30
US Department of State
The United States strongly
condemns North Korea's launch of an intercontinental ballistic
As the principal economic enablers of North Korea's
nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development program, China and
Russia bear unique and special responsibility for this growing
threat to regional and global stability.
The United States
will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.
12.29—12.35 am, July 30
I am very disappointed
in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make
hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet .. they do
NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow
this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!
"You have a White House in meltdown because
the president is a pyromaniac .. in a
rational world, Donald Trump would not be the president of the
United States. We're well past the rational world."
Two WW2 acronyms: snafu (situation normal,
all fucked up) and fubar (fucked up beyond all recognition).
Last November, American voters faced a choice between a candidate
who personified the political status quo under an arrogant and
detached liberal elite and a candidate who promised the disruption
of that status quo — snafu or fubar.
The time has arrived to
break the bad news to those who voted for Trump. You wanted change.
You got it. But the result is a political system that I can certify
as fucked up beyond all recognition. This is not politics — this is
AR Peaceniks of the world beware.
Brexit — Single Market Wins
Two of Germany's biggest industry groups say
their main concern during the Brexit process is protecting the
single market for the EU27, even if this harms UK trade.
Dieter Kempf: "Defending the single market, a key European project,
must be the priority for the European Union. Europe must maintain
the integrity of the single market and its four freedoms: goods,
capital, services, and labour. It is the responsibility of the
British government to limit the damage on both sides of the Channel.
Over the coming months, it will be extraordinarily difficult to
avert negative effects on British businesses in particular."
BDA president Ingo Kramer: "The single market is one of the
major assets of the EU. Access to the single market requires the
acceptance of all four single market freedoms. The UK will remain a
very important partner for us, but we need a fair deal for both
sides respecting this principle. The cohesion of the remaining 27 EU
member states has highest priority."
AR A clear and correct decision
2017 July 29
In the beginning, quantum
electrodynamics involved hard calculations. Richard Feynman found an
easier way to do them. But quantum chromodynamics involved so many
of them that even Feynman diagrams got too much.
Freddy Cachazo, Bo Feng, and Edward Witten (BCFW) calculated some
difficult scattering amplitudes and derived a simple equation to do
the same thing.
Their method was inspired by twistor theory,
developed by Roger Penrose (blog 2017-02-14). Twistors are light
rays (null geodesics in relativistic spacetime). The terms used in
the BCFW method map to tetrahedral volumes in twistor space, which
sum up to the volume of a polyhedron.
Nima Arkani-Hamed and
his team say BCFW results correspond to the volume of an
like a multidimensional polyhedron). An amplituhedron encodes
scattering amplitude calculations, and its dimensions and facets
encode the details of the interaction.
The amplituhedron does
not embody unitarity and locality, which are core principles for
Feynman diagrams. But amplituhedra give scattering amplitudes that
obey locality and unitarity, so locality becomes an emergent feature
of spacetime. Quantum mechanics says the energy fluctuations in tiny
intervals of time get ever bigger, big enough to warp spacetime and
form black holes, so we might lose locality in quantum gravity.
Arkani-Hamed: "If we are going
to lose something as dramatic as the idea of spacetime, it's very
unlikely that it leaves any of physics unaffected. It must show up
everywhere. It must show up even in situations where we think we
understand things perfectly well."
The amplituhedron works
for a toy model with supersymmetry. The standard model is not
supersymmetric, but for simple particle interactions the
amplituhedron results agree with standard ones. The new method holds
for the class of theories the standard model arose from.
Arkani-Hamed: "There is no way in this geometry to decouple the
piece which is spacetime from the piece which is quantum mechanics.
It's all one and the same aspect of the underlying positive
Oxford neuroscientist John
Jefferys studies consciousness. He says this is a large question to
do with what makes humans distinctive. He believes consciousness
depends on the brain.
Consciousness has different levels. In
some phases of sleep your brain behaves as if it is awake. When
awake we experience different levels of wakefulness. Other animals
are conscious, but humans are unique in storing and building on the
knowledge of previous generations.
Jefferys studies neural
correlates of consciousness. There are about 86 billion neurons in
the human cerebral cortex. Trillions of axons connect them at
synapses. Patterns of connections are as important as the numbers.
Jeremy England sees life as the outcome
of thermodynamics. He says groups of atoms will naturally
restructure themselves so as to burn more energy, dissipating it and
raising entropy. He says this adaptation fosters the growth of
England has tested his idea
in computer simulations. A simulated soup of chemicals evolves from
random initial settings toward a structured steady state. For some
settings, the reaction network evolves to fixed points far from
equilibrium, where it cycles vigorously through reactions to harvest
as much energy possible from the environment.
show this behavior can arise quite quickly. Groups of atoms that
unlock and burn chemical energy must be arranged in unusual forms.
When driven by external energy sources, they tend to tap into the
energy sources by rearranging so as to better absorb and dissipate
England sees the confluence of form and function
in life as the ultimate outcome of dissipation-driven adaptation and
self-replication. In his simulations, external energy sources forced
certain chemical reactions in the reaction network. As the reactions
progressed and the concentrations evolved, the amount of forcing
would change abruptly.
In such an
environment, the networks became tuned to the landscape. In
randomized runs, rare states of vigorous chemical activity and
extreme forcing occurred four times more often than expected. These
systems showed the functional form of life.
2017 July 28
Trump — Unfit!
President Trump is using the military as a
pawn in a political stunt. Right-wingers threatened to block funding
for his useless wall unless he eliminated funding for gender
reassignment surgery from the defense budget. Trump responded with a
ban on transgender people in the military.
Trump may have
been taken by surprise when conservative Republicans condemned the
move. His selfish motivation was obvious. In hot water with the
right wing and seeing the special prosecutor hot on his trail, he
decided to appeal to the worst instincts and prejudices of his base.
Trump is incapable of thinking beyond his self-interest. He
would disrupt our military, create havoc among active service
personnel and their families, and lie about it all just to distract
from his political woes. Trump has no clue as to the awesome
responsibilities of the presidency.
Mooch — Fire!
Trump's new White House communications
director Anthony Scaramucci: "They're trying to resist me, but it's
not going to work. I've done nothing wrong on my financial
disclosures, so they're going to have to go fuck themselves .. I'm
not Steve Bannon, I'm not trying to suck my own cock. I'm not trying
to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I'm
here to serve the country. .. OK, the Mooch showed up a week ago.
This is going to get cleaned up very shortly, OK? Because I nailed
these guys. I've got digital fingerprints on everything they've done
through the FBI and the fucking Department of Justice."
Brexit — Whoops!
Brexit may break the Conservatives. The
clock is ticking. Falling off a cliff in March 2019 is not a
sensible strategy for the UK or its government.
a transition would be difficult. Britain would be obliged to
continue to observe all the rules of the single market and customs
union, including free movement of workers and the jurisdiction of
the ECJ, and pay all its financial dues, while giving up its seat at
the Brussels table. Bespoke arrangements are impractical within the
Article 50 timescale.
No one is offering something for
nothing. The big trade deal promised by Donald Trump would see
British farmers put out of business by cheap imports and the NHS
opened up to US business. The Indians and Australians want more
The Treasury says we need EU access until
deals elsewhere are done. A limbo between the EU and Brexit
would be dire. Britain would be much better off as an EU member.
Blitzsieg — Nicht!
In Mai 1940 brach die deutsche Wehrmacht durch
zu Calais. Am 22. Mai 1940 steckte gut die Hälfte von mehr als eine
Million französische, britische und belgische Soldaten in einem
Aus London kam die Weisung, die Wehrmacht mit
voller Kraft anzugreifen. BEF-Kommandeur Lord Gort traf eine andere
Entscheidung: Er würde sofort und mit aller Kraft die Evakuierung
betreiben. Rund 400.000 Mann mussten in die unmittelbare Umgebung
der Hafenstadt Dünkirchen gelangen.
Die vordersten deutschen
Panzer waren nur noch 19 Kilometer vor Dünkirchen. Doch zwei Tage
lang zögerte Hitler, seinen Truppen den Angriff auf den Kessel
freizugeben. Am 24. Mai erließ er einen ausdrücklichen Haltebefehl.
Seit damals rätseln alle warum.
Der Führer könnte um seine Panzer gefürchtet haben. Denn am 21. Mai
hatten britische schwere Panzer vom Typ Matilda II den meist
leichten Kampfwagen der Wehrmacht zum ersten Mal eine Schlappe
2 Der Haltebefehl
wäre ein Angebot an die Regierung in London: Nach einem Sieg über
Frankreich wäre er zum Friedensschluss bereit.
Gröfaz wollte seiner höchsten
Generalität klar machen, auf wen es letztlich ankam.
Stunden wurde der Haltebefehl wieder aufgehoben, aber diese Zeit
hatten die Briten genutzt, um eine Evakuierung zu organisieren.
Operation Dynamo begann am 26. Mai 1940.
Bis 3. Juni 1940
transportierten britische Schiffe aus dem Hafen von Dünkirchen
239.446 Mann ab. Kleinere Boote bargen weitere 98.780 Soldaten von
2017 July 27
Brexit — Done Deal
For many French businesses and people, Brexit is
both desirable and unstoppable. Time for the EU to move on. Such
impatience with the UK is not limited to France.
Brits listen to the views of those across the Channel who know
European politics and how the EU works. Nothing about Brexit can be
settled except in agreement with the EU27 national governments and
the European Parliament. Brits harbor illusions and make
Theresa May and her cabinet ministers
want a phased exit from the EU to avoid a cliff-edge departure that
might damage business. But temporary UK acceptance of EU rules on
free movement will not be enough to strike a transition deal. EU
negotiators will ask the UK to continue to make budget payments,
remain in the EU judicial system, and accept its present membership
obligations, yet have no vote on anything.
UK home secretary Amber Rudd will commission a
detailed analysis of the economic and social contributions and costs
of EU citizens in Britain, to report back in September 2018.
Labour MP Heidi Alexander: "It beggars belief that the government
have taken a year to get round to asking for expert evidence on the
role played by EU nationals in our country .. The timing of this
announcement shows the total lack of preparation and understanding
that has typified this government's attitude to Brexit so far."
AR Heidi hat
Tech leaders aim to break through limits
and do things that were impossible before. But a pause can be wise.
Some advances raise deep ethical questions.
expectations for a new technology is important. When huge advances
are daily occurrences, it is all too easy to think there are no
limits to what we can do. People will accept almost any predictions
about the future of new technologies. This is the fake news of tech.
Unbounded dreams for a tech-driven nirvana can clash with the
realities of the modern world, particularly in regard to timeframes.
Some say technologies like AI or autonomous driving are going to
solve enormous societal issues in a matter of a few years. Others
see the tech industry as stagnating in search of the next big thing.
Both camps are wrong.
Autonomous driving can benefit some
people in some environments, but it will not be a great fit for
everyone, everywhere. We are still a long way from having a
physical, legal, economic, and political environment for autonomous
cars to have a big impact on the transportation needs of most
consumers. But the technologies can have a dramatic impact on public
transportation systems or shipping fleets over the next few years.
Google Glass is no longer trying to be the next generation
computing device and industry disruptor but will focus on work-based
applications. It will do what it is best designed to do. Accepting
that a technology cannot do some things creates a more realistic
scenario for it to succeed.
Thinking a new technology concept
can be extended without limits will lead to disappointment. A
limited scope is not a bug but a feature.
Globorg on hold, ditto the
2017 July 26
Clean Up Our Air!
The UK government will ban sales of new diesel and petrol cars
and vans from 2040. Hybrid cars will also be banned. At present
under 1% of new cars sold in Britain run solely on electric power.
The ban is part of a government plan to improve air quality. A
£3 billion program includes £255 million to help local authorities
to deal with toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from diesel vehicles.
Environment secretary Michael Gove will require dozens of councils
with roads breaching legal limits for NO2 to publish plans to cut
emissions by the end of 2018.
Poor air quality is the biggest
environmental risk to public health in the UK. Air pollution cost an
estimated £2.7 billion in lost productivity in 2012 and 40,000
premature deaths every year.
Clean Air Zones
The UK ban on the sale of all petrol and
diesel cars from 2040 is partly driven by EU rules.
European Commission in February threatened the UK with penalties for
failing to take action on nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. UK
environment secretary Michael Gove will asks local authorities to
improve air quality in areas where emissions have breached EU
thresholds by retrofitting buses and taking steps to improve traffic
The strategy calls for setting up 27 clean air zones
(CAZs) that polluting vehicles, especially diesels, would be charged
to enter. Greenpeace says proper clean air zones are vital. The
London mayor may be asked to fund a scheme to scrap diesels, the
worst emitters of poisonous NOx.
French president Emmanuel
Macron has already made the same 2040 pledge.
AR This is ambitious. A lot of extra
electricity generating capacity will be needed to recharge millions
of electric cars.
Humiliation corrodes the soul of nations.
Dunkirk was a disorderly retreat following a defeat. Yet Dunkirk
spirit became an emblem of national character, a metaphor for plucky
survival against insuperable odds.
Victory over fascism,
after a period of solitary defiance on an island fortress, has
infused British identity with vast reserves of moral authority. As
the rest of the world has moved on, Brits still congratulate
Britain joined the EEC in 1973. All the tribes of
Europe narrate the past in the majestic plural, yet none can match
British shame at loss of identity through EU membership. Brexit is
self-harm, born of an urge to expiate the sin of having joined the
enterprise in the first place.
Brexit will complete the
national devaluation prefigured in the post-referendum slide of
sterling. Britain will cut a smaller figure on the world stage.
Backing out now will require a plea for mercy that looks like a
Dunkirk was a preamble to hard times followed by
magnificent redemption. It shows retreat can be the best option.
When a plan goes wrong and disaster is in sight, it is time to
swallow pride and turn around.
Brains in Vats
A brain is governed by the laws of physics.
Those laws can be simulated on a computer. According to the
transhumanists, we will soon be able to live on inside computer
hardware. The brain in a vat becomes the brain on a chip.
Such heady visions ignore the fact that the brain is an organ of the
body. Experts say embodiment is central to experience and brain
function. At the immediate physiological level, the brain engages in
discourse with its sensory experience via hormones in the
How do you know you're not just a brain in a vat
being presented with a simulated world? How, then, can you know that
all your beliefs about the world are not false?
argued in 1981 that the notion is contradictory. Words and concepts
used by a brain in a vat cannot be meaningfully applied to real
objects outside of its experience, because the ability to interact
causally with the things that words name is how such words acquire
Anthony Brueckner: "If I am a Brain in a Vat, then I
am not a Brain in a Vat."
world is my vat.
2017 July 25
Brexit Is Our Dunkirk
Dunkirk is an enduring British myth. The
extraordinary evacuation of the stranded, defeated British army in
May and June 1940 staved off what would otherwise have been an
inevitably successful German invasion, runs the myth. Defeat became
the platform for eventual victory.
The Dunkirk spirit is
emblematic of British bulldog virtues. Brexiteers appeal to it
today. Any disaster, even one as epic as Brexit, can be turned
around if we all pull together. Dunkirk may have been a disaster,
but it was also a stunning achievement.
In 1940, British
naval and air strength was formidable. The British Empire
manufactured more planes and ships than Germany throughout the war.
Britain also boasted great scientific and technological strength.
Today, the UK current account deficit exceeds 5% of GDP, real wages
and productivity are stagnant, and hope is hard to find.
Brexit is a new Dunkirk. But no flotilla of small boats and no
underlying economic strength will come to the rescue. It's just
Prospects for deepening EZ monetary union remain
poor. EZ periphery states need to grow fast to reduce debt but
growth must stay weak if competitiveness is to rise via internal
devaluation. Until EZ surplus states deliver more domestic demand,
this contradiction will persist.
EZ periphery vulnerability
stems from several adverse dynamics:
Given high debt levels, euro fungibility across borders is still
prone to breakdown. During periods of weak growth, sovereign debt
sustainability is questioned. Periphery states have little recourse
to countercyclical fiscal stimulus.
EZ periphery states have to undergo painful internal devaluations to
regain competitiveness due to the fixed ERM. With average EZ
inflation very low, internal devaluation is politically and
potential growth rates and negligible inflation prevent debt levels
from falling much during cyclical upswings. Debt sustainability
Political will is lacking. The ECB program
to buy sovereign debt requires states in need of financing to cede
sovereignty to Brussels in return for funding. The high bar for
political intervention leaves the EZ unsafe.
Richard David Precht is a rock star of
German philosophy. He has sold more than 1 million copies worldwide
of his most popular book —
Who Am I? And If So, How Many? — in 32 languages. His TV show,
Precht, boasts a viewership of nearly 1 million.
German philosophy is flourishing.
takes its questions to the marketplace, letting the public help feel
them out, and now has a circulation of 100,000. German philosophers
have made the Faustian pact of exchanging profundity for popularity.
The grand German tradition of philosophers such as Kant, Hegel,
Nietzsche, and Heidegger
has been a source of national pride. German philosophy and German
national identity have been yoked together ever since Hegel. No
other philosophers have burdened their homelands with such a
Theodor Adorno said the German language had a
particular affinity for philosophy. If you wanted to do philosophy
properly, you had to do it in German. Though Adorno spent years at
Oxford and more than a decade in the United States, he treated
Anglo-American philosophy with contempt.
Jürgen Habermas read
Anglo-American philosophers. His 1981
The Theory of Communicative Action envisioned an unlimited
communication community linked through discourse and argument. His
work bridged Adorno's pessimistic, elitist style of philosophy and
the new revival of the discipline.
From 2002 to 2012,
Peter Sloterdijk was
Das Philosophische Quartett, a talk show on the German TV channel
ZDF. He and
Rüdiger Safranski would debate issues of the day with two
invited guests. But after a decade, ZDF replaced the hosts with
Richard David Precht and changed its name from Das Philosophische
Quartett to Precht.
Markus Gabriel, whose 2015 book
Why the World
Does Not Exist became an international bestseller, confirms that
modern German philosophy can be both profound and successful.
Philosophers like Precht and Gabriel seems to have an export market.
Philosophers, take heed.
2017 July 24
UK — Take Control
Brexit will tear the UK government apart. I
believe it faces an election in about two years.
To win that
election the government must refocus the agenda and govern:
● Reform schooling and end the
postcode lottery scandal. Let employers teach skills in local
enterprise partnerships. Devolve unemployment programs to employers.
● Convert two-tier counties to
unitary ones. The redundancies will allow council tax reductions.
Let new mayoral authorities become showpieces of conservatism in
● We have a housing crisis.
Appoint a supremo with the power to drive every aspect and empower
local authorities to build social housing.
● Each new electoral register
could be worth about a thousand votes against Brexit in every seat.
The European issue is about immigration. Climate change will
increase the flow.
● Let our aid programs create
brighter futures in immigrant homelands. Half of UK net immigration
has nothing to do with Europe. Make new arrangements for seasonal
● Turn back boats leaving
African shores. Our southern border is the Mediterranean. We should
accept the principle of free movement but negotiate the details.
Act now. It will be too late for the government when the vote of
confidence is called.
Poland — Protest
Polish president Andrzej Duda says he
will veto two bills that would give politicians wide powers over
the the judiciary in Poland.
The ruling Law and Justice party
says the changes are needed to overhaul an inefficient system. But
they have drawn fierce criticism from the EU and sparked protests
One of the bills would force all members of
the supreme court to step down, except for those kept on by the
president. The second would give parliament control over the council
that appoints judges.
Thousands of Poles took to the streets
around the country to protest the changes.
Brexit — Exit Options
1 Revocation of Brexit requires
the explicit consent of the European Council before March 29, 2019.
The EU27 leaders would have to agree. Some may ask for a few
— Revoke the UK budget rebate
negotiated by Margaret Thatcher in 1984.
— Agree on the next EU
budget for when the current budget ends in 2020.
— Cooperate on
EZ reform to establish a financial center within the EZ.
on immigration and other areas where the UK opted out.
2 Article 49 of the Lisbon treaty lets the UK reapply for EU
membership after March 29, 2019. This procedure removes UK rebates
and opt-outs and requires the UK to join the euro.
The UK seeks an association agreement with the EU that goes beyond a
trade deal and can serve as a blueprint for relations between the EZ
and other peripheral EU countries.
Looks like Fortress UK — the end is nigh.
2017 July 23
Philosophical prolegomenon to a viewing of
The Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche (1872, 1993
translation by Shaun Whiteside)
From the preface to Richard Wagner: "I imagine the moment when you, my
honoured friend, will receive this essay .. I am convinced that art
is the supreme task and the truly metaphysical activity of this life
in the sense of that man, my noble champion on that path, to whom I
dedicate this book."
derives its continuous development from the duality of the Apolline
and Dionysiac .. These two very different tendencies walk side by
side, usually in violent opposition to one another, inciting one
another to ever more powerful births, perpetuating the struggle of
the opposition .. until at last they seem to beget .. tragedy.
Apollo, the deity of all plastic forces, is also the soothsaying
god. Etymologically the shining one, the deity of light, he also
holds sway over the beautiful illusion of the inner fantasy world.
Schopenhauer has described the tremendous dread that grips man
when he suddenly loses his way amidst the cognitive forms of
appearance .. If we add to this dread the blissful ecstasy which ..
rises up .. from nature, we are vouchsafed a glimpse into the nature
of the Dionysiac .. the artistic power .. reveals itself .. amidst
the paroxysms of intoxication.
4 Apollo .. demands
moderation from his followers and .. self-knowledge .. The Apolline
Greeks .. were forced to feel .. their entire existence .. was based
on a veiled substratum of suffering and knowledge, revealed .. by
8 Enchantment is the precondition of all
dramatic art .. In the light of this insight, we must see Greek
tragedy as the Dionysiac chorus, continuously discharging itself in
an Apolline world of images.
16 According to Schopenhauer
.. we must see music as the immediate language of the will .. we can
conclude that music can give birth to the myth .. and the tragic
myth above all: the myth that speaks symbolically of the Dionysiac
25 Music and tragic myth are to an equal extent
expressions of the Dionysiac capacity of a people, and they are
Hans Zimmer scored a triumph of the will in
Christopher Nolan eschewed war porn for a
powerful and superbly crafted disaster movie.
Dunkirk brings together his finest qualities in a study of survival. The action
unspools in three interlaced strands that bend our perception of
Nolan had turned the Batman franchise into the
Dark Knight trilogy, which grossed $2.5 billion worldwide.
Alongside that trio, his 2010 movie
Inception took place in a mind-bending dreamworld and Interstellar (2014) in the warped time of a black hole.
Nolan was born in 1970 in London. His father was British, his mother
American. He studied English literature at University College
London, where he met his future wife and producer, Emma Thomas. They
have been married for 17 years and have four children.
AR I absorbed the
drama of Dunkirk in iSense at the Bournemouth Odeon. Dionysiac
Germans hammered Apolline Brits and deafening bombs and bullets
shook my body. My own bit part in the night scene in a train station
is invisible in the final cut.
2017 July 22
EU West End — UK
Brextremists rarely ask whether others want
any part of Empire 2.0. Donald Trump may or may not give Brits a
great deal full of goodies. Canada sees the US and the EU as much
more important trading partners than the UK. India has made new
agreements with London, but only 1.7% of UK exports go to India,
only 9% to all Commonwealth countries. The EU has free trade
agreements with 32 Commonwealth countries.
The EU has the
best cards in the Brexit poker. It is well prepared and is holding
together. The UK government still has no clear strategy on key
issues. Insiders see the chance of an agreement by the end of 2018
for an orderly Brexit as near zero. A transition period will be
needed to prevent a chaotic relapse to WTO rules.
hopes will be dashed. It will be hard to avoid that
humiliating end of empire feeling.
EU East End — Poland
Poland was long seen as the paragon among East
End member states. But Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his ruling Law and
Justice (PiS) party have turned Poland into a problem for the EU.
Kaczynski thinks in nationalist terms and sees the EU as a source of
cash rather than a community of solidarity. His party is dismantling
the constitutional separation of powers, despite protests from
Brussels, Berlin, and Polish activists.
Kaczynski envisions a
generous state with a nationalist and Catholic identity. He presents
himself as the defender of the common people against the
consequences of economic liberalism. He sees the Poles as a heroic
people forever victimized by Russia and Germany, and calls the EU an
instrument of German power.
A large majority of Poles support EU membership. Diplomats fear Poles could stumble to an
2017 July 21
Philosophy today is a
backwater, but 70 years ago things were different. Marxism was
winning converts worldwide. A new philosophy was needed that
provided an uncompromising vindication of free markets and contested
Rational choice theory holds that people make (or
should make) choices rationally by ranking the alternatives
presented to them with regard to transitivity and completeness. They
then choose the alternative that maximizes their utility, advancing
their relevant goals at minimal cost. The theory takes a strongly
individualist view of human life.
Rational choice theory was
elevated from an empirical theory covering certain empirical
contexts into a normative theory of the proper operation of the
human mind. Scientific method was already installed as coextensive
with reason itself. Scientists choose from an array of alternative
theories, under a preference for highest probability, in a series of
Cold War philosophy continues to structure
US society at large. It proclaims ethical neutrality. However
laudable or nefarious my goals might be, I will be better able to
achieve them if I have wealth and power. We therefore derive an
ethical imperative to increase wealth and power.
promulgating free markets and contested elections gave the
philosophy homes in departments of economics and political science,
where it thrives today. The philosophy is individualist and neutral
in regard to ends. Its ethic is no ethic at all — greed is good.
Another problem: Whatever I choose has at least one alternative,
or there would be no choice. But if I identify myself at the outset
with any of my plurality of alternatives, I cannot choose any
alternative to it. Any alternative I consider in the course of
making a rational decision is something I can walk away from and
still be me. My fundamental identity is as a rational chooser who
opts for the highest utility.
To act freely is to act from
your entire moral being. Hegel: freedom is the apprehension of
necessity — to understand what you have to do to be you. Freedom of
choice is valuable only when situated within wider horizons of
Sam Harris should
What can years and years of nuclear terror
teach us about how the existential fear of mass death and societal
collapse might affect our ability to respond to climate change?
Stories related to climate change have failed to tap into
deep-seated pre-existing terrors. Nuclear fear draws on a number of
extremely potent tropes. During the Cold War, people living in fear
of nuclear apocalypse often reported feeling like they were being
carried away by something ancient and inexorable.
climate change lacks a visceral image of the worst-case scenario.
Nuclear fear also benefits from our bias toward individual stories.
Because climate change is about social fate, not individual agency,
it is much less dramatic to witness, much more difficult to
villainize, and much easier to ignore.
The current US
president seems entirely unbothered by climate change, It is
tempting to think that ringing alarm bells could force citizens to
insist on positive action.
AR I fear Earth could become
another hell-hole like Venus.
UK environment secretary Michael Gove
"deeply regrets" the Trump administration's approach to the Paris
agreement on climate change: "The world's second-biggest generator
of carbon emissions can't simply walk out of the room when the heat
On Brexit: "Of course it's important we explore new
trading opportunities, with the United States and other nations
across the world but it must not be, and the cabinet is agreed on
this, at the risk of dropping any environmental standards
AR Gove is smart
enough to fear Venus.
Heiraten, so meine Erkenntnis mit etwas
Abstand, ist nicht nur überflüssig, sondern total bekloppt. Heiraten
ändert nämlich nichts. Nichts wird besser, schöner, sicherer.
Man fühle sich vor allem sicherer, sagen vor allem Frauen. Aber
das stimmt nicht. Verbundenheit ist ein Gefühl, das sich schon vor
der Heirat eingestellt haben sollte, sonst käme man ja auch gar
nicht erst auf die dämliche Idee mit der Hochzeit.
bedeutet für Frauen in Deutschland: sich klein zu machen. Etwa jede
dritte Ehe wird geschieden, und Unterhaltszahlungen sind auch nicht
mehr das, was sie mal waren. Seit 2008 gilt das Prinzip der
Siehe "Choice" oben!
Andrea Hanna Hünniger
Das, was am
perfektesten wirkt, scheitert oft umso brutaler. Ich möchte deshalb
schon vorab einen Vorschlag unterbreiten: Ich möchte das
Scheidenlassen gerne, wenn nicht verbieten, dann wenigstens
Auf dem Weg zur Ehe reden wir über die Liebe und
das Glück, aber nachdem die Ringe getauscht sind, sprechen wir ganz
altmodisch von Selbstauflösung, Loyalität und harter Arbeit. Wir
können uns zwingen, loyal und aufopfernd zu sein, aber wir können
uns nicht zwingen, zu lieben. Wir haben sehr wenig Kontrolle über
Wenn eine Beziehung in der Krise ist, machen
wir keine Pause, die lang genug wäre, um uns fragen zu können, was
das Eheversprechen eigentlich bedeutet hat. Stattdessen erzählen wir
Geschichten darüber, wie die Liebe durch Entschlossenheit und harte
Arbeit erhalten bleibt, angeblich, aber wir glauben unseren
Geschichten nicht wirklich.
Sich scheiden zu lassen raubt
nicht nur unfassbar viel Energie, es ist auch teuer und
gesundheits-schädlich. Die Möglichkeit des nächsten Partners ist zwar noch
da, aber wir können vorher wissen, dass dieser die gleichen Probleme
mit sich bringt. Nämlich unsere eigenen.
Solange man nicht
kotzen muss, wenn der Partner zur Tür hereinkommt, sollte man sich
nicht scheiden lassen. Gerade für Frauen bedeutet Scheidung in
vielen Fällen einen finanziellen Absturz und die totale
gesellschaftliche Vernichtung. Ehe heißt Unterwerfung, Trennung
heißt Emanzipation, sagt man. Das ist leider nicht wahr.
Ehe beginnt als hoffnungsvolles, großzügiges Projekt zweier
Personen, die noch nicht wissen, wer sie sind und wer der andere
ist. Eigentlich ist sie ein Akt des Verzichts und ihre Ethik die dem
Aushalten und der Solidarität.
AR Ledig ist
erträglich, gehieratet ist besser.
Brexit with Stukas
My cuts of
a few reviews
Geoffrey Macnab, The independent
Winston Churchill called
it a colossal military disaster. Christopher Nolan shows the blind
terror and helplessness of the 400,000 British
on the beach in the summer of 1940, seemingly abandoned, as Stuka
dive-bombers hammered them relentlessly.
The sound editing and
Hans Zimmer's pounding, disorienting electronic soundtrack induce
Nolan has gone to extraordinary lengths to
portray the Dunkirk evacuation in as realistic a fashion as
He intercuts between the stories of the soldiers,
sailors, and airmen. Much of the imagery seems surreal.
see the Germans at all, only their airplanes as they swoop down for
The soldiers wait for deliverance, hoping for a
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
A superbly crafted film with
a powerful story, Dunkirk is terrifying, shattering spectacle on a
desolate and apocalyptic beachscape.
Nolan's best film so far
also has Hans Zimmer's best musical score: the eerie, keening,
groaning sound of a nightmare.
The disaster is big, the stakes
are high, the anxiety is unbearable. The battle is over before the
The soldiers wait on the beach like survivors of
some horrible natural disaster.
Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
Dunkirk is a work of
heart-hammering intensity and grandeur that demands to be seen on
the best and biggest screen within reach.
The strands of the
story unspool simultaneously, creating a sense that events are
driving toward a pivotal historical moment.
This is a British
film, with no concessions to the global market. The dialog is sparse
The actors are viscerally engaged with whatever
task is facing them in any given moment.
The superb Hans Zimmer
score is a constant presence.
Peter Debruge, Variety
This is the definitive cinematic
version of Dunkirk. Tommy is our avatar through the ordeal.
storyline features hardly any dialog, relying instead on us to adapt
to the unrelentingly harrowing situation.
Operation Dynamo was a
call to all civilian sailors, asking that they steer any ship or
boat they had across the English Channel
to rescue as many of the
stranded soldiers as possible. The Dunkirk beaches are a special
kind of hell in the film.
Andrew Pulver, The Guardian
With Dunkirk, Christopher
Nolan may at last be compared with the late, great Stanley Kubrick.
Nolan has taken on a cornerstone national myth and made a film as
stylistically bold as anything Kubrick engineered.
Dunkirk is not
Notional aibot with fog node
enabled by SAP Leonardo
SAP revises expected
total 2017 revenue to
KC Aerial Photo
Storm center 6 km
my sleepy head last night
Maxwell equations condensed
modern notation to a line
relating 4-vectors A and j
Messerschmitt Bf 109E
Josef 'Pips' Priller
2017 July 20
Brexit — FUK Madness
UK citizens living in the EU could lose the
right to live in another EU member state after Brexit. In talks this
week, the EU said it will not move without a guarantee for EU
citizens living in the UK to allow them to move to another EU state
and return to the UK.
Uncertainty faces nearly 5 million
people caught on the wrong side of the English Channel. About 1.2 million
UK nationals living in the EU are affected. EU officials say the UK
must make a reciprocal offer to protect the 3.5 million EU nationals
living in the UK.
Brextremists mad? Grant full reciprocal rights!
IoT Edge Computing
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of intelligent objects.
The core of an IoT solution is typically a central IT system for
storing, processing, and analyzing IoT data.
— IoT endpoints frequently cannot
transmit all their sensor data to the core.
— Some local systems
must make autonomous decisions fast and cannot wait for the cloud.
Edge processing can address these challenges.
An edge processing unit is a physical device, called an IoT gateway
or a fog node. It connects to devices at the edge and connects to
the core directly using high-speed internet. It also provides
security and lifecycle management at the edge.
computing is playing an increasingly important role in IoT
solutions. The industry trend is to deploy functionality as micro
services and use container technology for lifecycle management and
other benefits that come from isolation.
SAP Leonardo Edge
Services represent the forefront of defining and providing relevant
edge computing functionality such as persistence, stream processing,
visual and predictive analytics, and other micro services for the
edge. These services are designed for implementation on both
existing and emerging edge platforms.
SAP Leonardo Edge
— A distributed programming model for the edge
and the core
— A lifecycle model for edge services, platform, and
devices and sensors
— A deep integration with enterprise systems
to bring enterprise functionality to the edge
Edge Services empower live business by connecting things with people
AR SAP promotion — but music to my ears.
2017 July 19
Trump — Global Consequences
Stephen M. Walt
Donald Trump lacks competence. The
consequences in foreign policy are already apparent:
1 Big policy mistakes:
— Dropping the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
— Walking away from the Paris
— Failing to appreciate that China was not going
to solve the North Korea problem
Other countries do not pay much attention to Washington:
Arabia is ignoring US efforts to resolve the dispute between the
Gulf states and Qatar.
— Israel doesn't care what Trump thinks
about the Palestinian dispute or the situation in Syria.
Korea has announced it will begin talks with North Korea.
EU and Japan just reached a large trade deal.
— TPP-like talks
are resuming without the United States.
— Germany and Canada say
they need to chart their own course.
Emmanuel Macron of
France and Justin Trudeau of Canada treated Trump with more respect
than he deserves. You'd tread carefully, too, if you found yourself
in the same room as a drunk rhinoceros.
Brexit — Colossal Disaster
It would be a disaster for the UK to leave
Euratom. The EU must accommodate the British, who must accept the
jurisdiction of the ECJ when it comes to overseeing Euratom.
I would urge the UK government not to listen to Guy Verhofstadt or
Michel Barnier. Verhofstadt wants to achieve a United States of
Europe and now wants to punish the British. Barnier wants to make
sure that Brexit is such a catastrophe that no country dares to take
the step of leaving the EU again.
This is a terrible
situation. In Germany, we value the ties we have with the British
and we value your voice in Europe. So I say to MPs: if you want to
think again on Euratom, we are all ears.
As we all face the
disaster of Brexit, perhaps it's too much to hope MPs will tell
the British people: "We've all made a colossal mistake."
2017 July 18
Australian prime minister Malcom Turnbull:
"The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that
applies in Australia is the law of Australia."
to force tech companies to give security services access to
encrypted messages. Encryption uses hard mathematics that cannot be
overturned by an eavesdropper. With all due respect to security
services who want to read messages sent by suspected terrorists,
encryption cannot be weakened for terrorists unless it is weakened
UK home secretary Amber Rudd recently called
encryption completely unacceptable. Late last year, the UK
parliament passed the Investigatory Powers Act that would force
companies to remove encryption. But encryption is also used for
online shopping, bank transactions, and so on. Politicians need to
Like it or not, the laws of mathematics are
here to stay.
mathematician James Clerk Maxwell was the great genius of
Victorian theoretical physics. His equations uniting electricity and magnetism
enabled him to conclude light was electromagnetic radiation.
All later physics, including relativity and quantum mechanics,
flowed from those equations and that insight. All the electric and
electronic technology that has transformed our world traces its
theoretical ancestry to them.
I have spent the last week or so
reliving (yet again) the drama of his discoveries by reading my way
through a tolerably informal mathematical derivation of the
equations from first principles. The hard work of writing it all out
was accomplished with easy fluency and a light touch by Yale
professor Ramamurti Shankar over some 300 pages of the second volume
of his text
Fundamentals of Physics. The experience has been a joy for me.
Let no one say physics is dull. Take your time and it comes
alive. The saga of how we went from tinkering with a collection of
curious experimental results in electricity and magnetism to a deep
and satisfying theoretical account that led us inexorably to
transform basic mechanics from its Newtonian roots first to special
relativity and then to quantum mechanics is one of the greatest
tales of our era. It sure beats Wagnerian opera!
2017 July 17
Die sozialen Unterschiede in Großbritannien
sind eklatant. Dass diese Unterschiede existieren, bezweifelt in
Großbritannien kaum jemand. Selbst wenn man die Monarchie mit der
Queen an der Spitze außen vor lässt, zerfällt die britische
Gesellschaft in sieben Klassen, laut der 2013 BBC Great British
Fast die Hälfte der Bevölkerung werden in die
drei untersten Klassen einsortiert, allein 15% im Prekariat. Diese
Menschen haben ein durchschnittliches Jahreseinkommen von nur 8.000
Pfund, so gut wie keine Ersparnisse oder Grundbesitz und sind auch
sozial und kulturell benachteiligt.
Wer nach den Ursachen für
diese Armut und damit für die extremen Unterschiede in der
britischen Gesellschaft sucht, muss sich drei Faktoren vor Augen
1 In der britischen
Geschichte gab es keine bürgerliche Revolution.
2 Das britische Bildungssystem ist immer
Neoliberalismus der letzten 40 Jahre hat die Situation verschärft.
Die soziale Mobilität ist in Großbritannien besonders gering.
Als Voraussetzung für hohe soziale Mobilität gilt allgemein ein
Bildungssystem, das auch den Angehörigen der unteren Schichten gute
Chancen bietet. Doch in Großbritannien hängt es noch heute von der
Klassenzugehörigkeit ab, wer welche Schule besucht.
Überdurchschnittlich viele Angehörige der Eliten waren auf
angesehenen Hochschulen: 10 von 23 Kabinettsmitgliedern in Theresa
Mays neuer Regierung haben Abschlüsse von Oxford oder Cambridge, sie
selbst auch. Drei ihrer Minister kommen aus dem gleichen
Studiengang: PPE — Philosophy, Politics, and Economics an der
University of Oxford.
AR Auch ich
habe einen Oxford PPE-Abschluss — bin
aber kein Vertreter der Oberschicht.
Brexit — KBO?
Nicholas Soames MP, a former army
officer and an ardent Europhile, offers advice to the prime
minister: "Do not be defined by Brexit. Don't allow this to dominate
the whole of the government."
On Brexit: "We look like we're not the
country we were. I worry greatly. We don't have a skilled economy.
We are way behind on our technical training. This is a poorly
educated country, frankly .. I'm not optimistic for my country. I
don't see how we're ever going to project our influence and our
standing and our power outside the EU .. Britain's voice is going to
diminish, I'm afraid."
He quotes his grandfather Winston
Churchill — keep buggering on.
Trillion Dollar Turkey
The F-35 joint strike fighter was supposed to answer to all
western air defence needs for the early decades of this century. It
is turning into an object lesson in the pitfalls of procurement. If
the UK Ministry of Defence continues on its present course, it may
find the planes for its two new aircraft carriers are vulnerable to
hackers, unable to fly in full stealth mode, and even in some cases
too heavy to fly at all.
JSF development began in 1996, the aircraft still has numerous
flaws. These include poor acceleration through the sound barrier.
Test pilots find it underpowered in dogfights. Engineers find it unreliable even by stealth aircraft standards. For the UK, its
ability to offer updated information about enemy movements far
beyond the horizon is available in stealth mode only with the
purchase of additional kit.
The full cost of the 14 aircraft
delivered to Britain so far is likely to be closer to £150 million
each than the up to £100 million cited by Lockheed Martin. The MoD
has committed to buying 138 F-35s. The JSF program was meant to meet
a wide range of service needs at once, at minimum cost. A trillion
dollars later, the F-35 is a turkey. MoD officials say the project is
on time, on budget, and the best option for Britain!
Brexit — Chaotic Handling
Brexit is about the whole of the UK. It
will affect all UK citizens, and EU citizens in the UK. This is much
bigger than one political party's internal divisions or short term
electoral positioning. It's about people's lives.
The Brexit negotiations need to be conducted with
full transparency. I believe they should involve more people with
more diverse opinions. Some recognition that the election result
was, in part, a rejection of a hard Brexit would be welcome.
The handling of Brexit so far has been somewhat chaotic. Over a year
since the referendum we have only just started the negotiations.
This delay has not been good for the UK, or for the EU, or for
Maryam Mirzakhani said mathematics
research feels like writing a novel. "There are different
characters, and you are getting to know them better. Things evolve,
and then you look back at a character, and it's completely different
from your first impression."
graduate at Harvard, Mirzakhani was captivated by hyperbolic
geometry. On a hyperbolic surface with two or more holes, some
geodesics are infinitely long but others close into a loop. The
number of closed geodesics of a given length grows exponentially
with their length. Almost all of them cut across themselves many
times before closing up smoothly. Vanishingly few simple geodesics
never intersect themselves.
In her 2004 doctoral thesis,
Mirzakhani developed a formula for how the number of simple
geodesics of length L grows as L gets larger. She solved two other
major research questions along the way. Her thesis resulted in three
papers published in the three top mathematics journals.
2006, Mirzakhani began a collaboration with Alex Eskin. They tackled
a problem concerning the behavior of billiard balls bouncing around
polygonal tables. Zig-zag paths on a table can be mapped to straight
lines on a translation surface. Understanding the moduli space of
all translation surfaces is the key to understanding billiards.
In 2012 and 2013, Mirzakhani and Eskin proved a major set of
results about such translation surfaces. Their 172-page paper is the
beginning of a new era.
British Antarctic Survey
A trillion tons of ice broke off Antarctica
Macron treats Trump
to display of French
pomp in Paris
"Democracy is the theory that
the common people know what
want, and deserve to
get it good and hard."
Claude Shannon worked at
Bell Labs and published his
mathematical theory of
communication in 1948.
He saw that bits
Our best black hole
and Kip Thorne
Juno image recalls
Vincent van Gogh
"I am not
hearing any whistling,
just a clock ticking."
Die Union könne
2017 July 16
Maryam Mirzakhani (1977—2017) was an Iranian
mathematician and a professor at Stanford University. She won three
gold medals at the International Mathematical Olympiad in 1994 and
1995 and won the Field Medal in 2014.
Mirzakhani worked on the theory of moduli spaces of Riemann surfaces.
She discovered a formula expressing the volume of a moduli space
with a given genus as a polynomial in the number of boundary
components. She proved a theorem on closed
geodesics on a compact hyperbolic surface. With others, she proved
that complex geodesics and their closures in moduli space are
"Among other things, she studies billiards. But now, in a move very
characteristic of modern mathematics, it gets kind of meta: She
considers not just one billiard table, but the universe of all
possible billiard tables. And the kind of dynamics she studies
doesn't directly concern the motion of the billiards on the table,
but instead a transformation of the billiard table itself, which is
changing its shape in a rule-governed way; if you like, the table
itself moves like a strange planet around the universe of all
possible tables .. This isn't the kind of thing you do to win at
pool, but it's the kind of thing you do to win a Fields Medal."
Mirzakhani: "Of course, the most rewarding part is the 'aha'
moment, the excitement of discovery and enjoyment of understanding
something new — the feeling of being on top of a hill and having a
clear view. Most of the time, doing mathematics for me is like being
on a long hike with no trail and no end in sight."
Brexit — World Role
We must decide what role the UK is willing to
play in the questions that will define this century.
of Parliament must lead the debate about what sort of international
role the UK can play. Grand strategy cannot be made behind closed
doors. A new foreign policy vision can only be successful if there
is public consensus behind it.
Parliamentary committees can
be hubs for new thinking about the UK role on the global stage.
Brexit — Rough Ride
David Davis says Brexit makes landing on
the Moon look simple. Sir Jeremy Heywood says Brexit is the most
complex challenge the civil service has faced in our peacetime
history. Amyas Morse says UK preparations risk falling apart like a
Brexit was a complex challenge for a
government with a clear majority and a strong and stable leader. The
government now has to get detailed legislation through with a
slender majority that could evaporate at key moments. We are in for
a rough ride.
Brexit — Nuclear Calamity
project will demonstrate nuclear fusion power on a commercial
scale. It involves the European Union, US, Japan, South Korea,
China, Russia, and India. Fusion can operate alongside solar, wind,
and other renewables to power the world to a carbon-free future.
For decades, the UK has led the world in addressing this grand
challenge. The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) operates the Joint
European Torus (JET) on behalf of Europe. In so doing, we have
acquired unique capabilities in critical areas for fusion.
29 March, the UK government declared an intention to leave Euratom
at the same time as leaving the EU. The existing Euratom R and D
program ends in 18 months. It is vital that we negotiate a solution
for a strong future relationship with Euratom.
2017 July 15
Humans have a shockingly high
mutation rate. Our survival as a species suggests we have a way of
dumping dangerous mutations.
It may seem that natural
selection acts on mutations one by one. But perhaps the fates of
mutations are linked in synergistic epistasis where having one
mutation can compound the effects of another. Thus an individual
with more mutations is not just additively but more like
exponentially worse off.
As the number of nasty genetic
errors in a population rises, natural selection will dump lots of
them out of the genome together. In sexual organisms, because
mutations from each parent can recombine randomly onto the same
chromosomes, the synergistic expulsion can work faster.
Synergistic epistasis has been acting on us and other organisms.
Fewer individuals than expected have large numbers of dangerous
mutations, suggesting that at the high end there is stronger
selection against such individuals. There is no shortage of
individuals with milder mutations.
shuffles parental genes together in new combinations. It is hard to
justify as an evolutionary strategy because a sexual organism passes
on only half of its genes. An asexually reproducing organism gets
double the benefit, none of the hassle. Yet sex continues.
Sex pays off if it gets rid of dangerous mutations. Perhaps it wipes
them out by shuffling them into freaks that fail to breed.
The UK is making a spectacular mess of
In an unnecessary referendum, a small majority chose
an option that had not been worked out. A new prime minister adopted
the hardest possible interpretation of the outcome and triggered
exit before shaping a negotiating position. Then, in an unnecessary
election, she lost both her majority and her authority.
Conservative party is so split over Brexit as to be no longer a
coherent party of government. Party Brextremists fail to understand
that with no deal the UK would default on its legal obligations to
EU members. Anyone who thinks those members would then cooperate
over vital British interests is dreaming.
The UK ship of
state is stuck between a rock and a hard race. Brextremists have
reduced British politics to a shambles. There is no exit from Brexit
and no easy way to a deal.
Britannia sinks off Dunkirk.
Britain is suffering from politics. If the
will of the British people remains as it was in June of last year,
then Brexit will happen. But we can change our will.
Macron victory changes Europe. The EZ will integrate economic
decision making. Europe will have an inner and outer circle. Reform
is on the agenda.
The British people want a strong
relationship with Europe. A majority oppose hard Brexit. As for
immigration, the French and Germans share British worries.
Brexit is the biggest British political decision since 1940. The
government program is dominated by Brexit. It has no bandwidth to do
Government Brexit policy has turned into hard
Brexit or no deal. The Conservative manifesto was typical tough Tory
policy on social care and school meals, plus fox hunting. The public
I propose a radical policy agenda. The NHS, schools
and skills, nurseries, welfare, and retirement all need fundamental
redesign. Communities and people left behind need to be helped,
infrastructure needs to be built anew, and we need affordable
Brexit is a massive distraction.
2017 Bastille Day
Take Back Control
The UK government has published its European Union (Withdrawal)
Bill. The bill incorporates accepted EU law into the English legal
system and repeals the 1972 European Communities Act.
government has awarded itself vastly excessive executive power. The
task of melding EU and UK law is very tangled. The first major
constitutional event under the new sovereignty will be ministers
exercising powers to amend legislation without parliamentary
Conservatives are meant to place wise
administration before madcap utopian schemes. Yet, gripped by the
colossally stupid notion that Britain as a member of the EU was not
a free nation, they regard any economic price as worth the invisible
benefit of sovereignty.
The politicians who got us into this
mess don't know what they're doing. Their view of the EU is too
ideologically narrow. The prime minister needs to take back control.
Confront The Chancers
The domestic political context of Brexit is
shifting. In Brussels, Michel Barnier leads an organized and
rational team of negotiators. In London, amateurs, blowhards, and
Theresa May continues to repeat her Brexit
mantras. She is getting on with the job, working to get a good deal,
always talking as if the outcome is certain. But she is trapped by
the growing realization that Brexit is heading to be an economic and
diplomatic disaster for Britain.
In Hamburg, Donald Trump
offered Britain a "very, very big" trade deal "very, very quickly"
but has no authority to deliver one. For the UK, the trade partners
that matter most are places like Germany, Benelux,
and France. Rational statecraft would seek to preserve that trade.
The EU is still being patient with Britain. May could be tempted
to appease the Brextremists to survive her party conference. She
must confront them.
No one knows how black holes work inside.
They must either destroy information at their central singularity —
no go in quantum theory — or surround themselves at the event
horizon with a firewall — no go in general relativity. So perhaps
the ones we think we see are actually boson stars.
such as protons and electrons, have half-integer spin.
They cannot occupy the same quantum state as one another, so
electrons arrange themselves in different energy states around an
atomic nucleus, explaining the periodic table in chemistry. Fermions
are identified by their unique quantum states and obey Fermi-Dirac
Bosons, such as photons, have integer spin and obey
Bose-Einstein statistics, so any number of them can pile into
the same quantum state — and lose their separate identities in doing
so. Bosons carry the forces by which fermions interact —
photons carry the electromagnetic force. A bosonic collective state
is known as a Bose-Einstein condensate.
When fermionic matter
forms a star, gravitational pressure heats it up enough to ignite
nuclear fusion and radiate light. By contrast, boson stars would
just form big toroidal lumps. They would be transparent and
invisible, given away only by their gravity. A compact boson star
would bend light around it, causing a lensing effect like a black
A boson star will attract mass, warm up, and
emit EM radiation. Spin 0 bosons could form stars. But photons have
spin 1, so no go. The Higgs boson has spin 0 but its mass is 125
GeV, so no go too. For bosons, the smaller their mass, the bigger
the stars they form. We're stuck.
I have added content to this cut to make it crunchier. A
massive boson star would be a black hole too, so I see no payoff — the problems inside are just as crass. And since a boson
star would attract fermions, it might well look much like any other
star. But what are these bosons? They aren't in the Standard Model.
2017 July 13
The Russian Connection
The New York Times
Rob Goldstone: "This is obviously very
high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its
government's support for Mr Trump."
Donald Trump Jr: "If it's
what you say I love it."
Trump Jr appears to be in real legal
jeopardy. Federal campaign finance law prohibits political campaigns
from soliciting anything of value from foreign nationals.
the Trump world, ethics is for suckers. Republicans in Congress are
maintaining their head-between-the-knees position as the Trump plane
America's First Family
The Trump administration is little more than
the Trump family plus some disposable retainers.
Jr solicited damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the
Kremlin. To Federal prosecutors, this is evidence of collusion with
a foreign power.
At the G20 summit, Trump spent 135 minutes
talking to Vladimir Putin. No one has a clue what they agreed. The
USA and Russia now belong on the same moral plane.
G20 meeting, Trump left the room and Ivanka Trump took his place at
the table between Xi Jinping and Theresa May. No other western
democracy operates like this.
As long as Trump is president,
the USA is vulnerable.
King Felipe VI of Spain, addressing an
audience of peers and MPs in the House of Lords as part of his state
visit to the UK, said the two countries had overcome differences in
"I am certain that this resolve to overcome our
differences will be even greater in the case of Gibraltar and I am
confident that through the necessary dialogue and effort our two
governments will be able to work towards arrangements that are
acceptable to all involved."
Bojo Defends Rock
The UK Foreign Office, headed by Boris
Johnson, defended the expulsion of a Spanish warship from the
disputed waters around Gibraltar. A Spanish patrol boat was told to
leave on Tuesday by a Royal Navy unit from the Gibraltar squadron.
Spain wants Gibraltar back and does not recognise the waters as
sovereign British overseas territory.
The status of Gibraltar
is part of the Brexit negotiations.
The European Project
Ann Mettler, Paweł Świeboda
The EU is delivering
economically. The EZ and broader EU recently recorded their highest
ever employment, investment is up, and growth is projected to be
twice as fast as US growth. Leaders have stood for reform in Europe.
A white paper on the
future of Europe published in March 2017 is being called the
birth certificate of the EU27. Europeans are ready to invest in the
common project. They realize that disintegration, illiberal
democracy, and populism are profoundly dangerous.
Europe can only prosper on the basis of the
vitality and legitimacy of the EU. Fundamental political choices must not be fudged or
decided behind closed doors. A wide debate is needed, engaging
citizens in new ways and making sure their voice matters.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will lay out
additional initiatives in his next state of the union speech in
September. For the EU to pursue business as usual would be a
profound misreading of the public mood.
2017 July 12
Clash of Civilizations
Donald Trump: "The fundamental question of
our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the
confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have
enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have
the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face
of those who would subvert and destroy it?"
terrorism is a concern. But to judge it an overriding existential
threat is ludicrous. Nazism was an existential threat. So was Soviet
communism. Terrorism is just a nuisance.
We must beware the
self-fulfilling prophecy of a clash of civilizations, not just
because it is untrue, but because we have to cooperate. The ideal of
a global community reflects today's reality. Technology and economic
development have made humans masters of the planet and dependent
upon one another. Borders are arbitrary.
In a nuclear age,
war should be unthinkable. But that does not make it impossible.
Managing frictions among nuclear-armed powers is an inescapable
Global Nuclear Weapons
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
overall number of nuclear weapons in the world continues to
decline. But all of the nuclear-armed states are modernizing
their nuclear arsenals. They will not be prepared to give
them up for the foreseeable future.
At the start of
2017, nine states possessed about 4150 operationally
deployed nuclear weapons. If all nuclear warheads are
counted, these states together possessed a total of about 14 935 nuclear weapons.
Im Kern, erklärt Rüdiger Safranski, gehe
es in dem diskussionswürdigen Werk von Sieferle doch nicht darum,
Auschwitz zu leugnen, sondern mitzudenken, "dass dieses 20.
Jahrhundert so voll von den Großverbrechen war". Auf "einer
metaphysischen Deutungsebene" werde in Finis Germania dargelegt, wie
nach "der allgemeinen Überlieferung sich dann ein auserwähltes Volk
und das extrem Böse, das Deutsche gewissermaßen gegenüberstehen"
eine Gedankenfigur, die auch jüdische Denker schon formuliert
Finis Germania: Hitler sei es "für alle Zeiten"
gelungen, "den Deutschen und den Juden eine komplementäre
Sonderrolle" in der Welt zuzuweisen. Es gebe ein "positiv
auserwähltes Volk", nämlich die Juden, und ein "negativ auserwähltes
Volk", die Deutschen. Im Programm des antifaschistisch inspirierten
Multikulturalismus macht man sich nun Sieferle zufolge genau diese
Opposition zunutze, um "das indigene Volk der Industrieländer" zum
Gegner zu erklären und "dessen Widerstand gegen Immigration und
Überfremdung" zu brechen.
Kurz: Der Holocaust rottet die
Deutschen aus, denn die Antifaschismus-Keule sorgt heute dafür, dass
wir jeden Migranten ins Land lassen und somit untergehen.
AR Deutschland ist in Europa integriert
— am besten so können die Deutschen sich aus dieser
Britain Memorial Flight turns 60: A legitimate piece of living
history is mutating slowly into a focus for celebrating
exceptionalism that borders on pathological jingoism — Britain
punches above its weight on the global stage etc.
"The more strain on its ends,
the tighter it becomes"
Reception with Poole
and a Jackson
2017 July 11
Apple v Google
Mihir A. Desai
Apple and Google parent company Alphabet
are the two most valuable companies in the world, with a combined
market capitalization of over $1.3 trillion.
Apple and Google
have taken completely different approaches to their shareholders and
to the future, one driven by investors and the other by founders and
Apple faced pressure to redistribute its cash
pile of almost $100 billion by the end of 2011 to shareholders. Most
of the cash was in Ireland, and it would incur big US taxes upon
repatriation. So from 2013 to March 2017, Apple released $200
billion via dividends and buybacks, and took on $99 billion in
Google founders maintained voting control
over the company. But by 2012, as the founders sold stock and
employees were issued shares in their compensation packages, Google
gave founder shares 10 times the voting power of regular shares.
From 2013 to March 2017, Google generated $114 billion in cash flow
but only distributed $7 billion to shareholders.
On how to
spend the profits, the interests of managers and investors can
diverge. Apple lets investors dominate, which checks managers who
might pursue goals that enrich themselves. Google lets managers
decide, since big investors who also act for other shareholders may
not serve the real interests of the company.
No one knows
which is the better strategy.
Brexit and National Humiliation
Brexit Britain appears to face a choice
between three different types of humiliation:
1 Britain becomes so desperate for a
trade deal that it accepts all the EU terms, including a bill of up
to €100 billion, the free movement of people, and the jurisdiction
of the ECJ.
2 Britain refuses,
crashes out of the EU without a deal, bets on the promised "very,
very big" trade deal with Trump's America, and makes "global
Britain" look like a sick joke.
Britain accepts that there is no good Brexit and abandons the whole
idea. Even to secure a return to the EU, Britain might have to give
up its cherished budget rebate.
Each of these results will
cause dismay and anger in Britain. Eurocrats may find a Britain
humbled by Brexit easier in the long run. Postwar Germany shows
being humbled can be good for the soul.
2017 July 10
China has always attached great importance to
Germany is a competitive exporter and manufacturer,
and thus an ideal model for China. Its social welfare and market
system have been widely debated in China. For decades, Germany has
had a big market share in China.
President Xi Jinping is
likely to discuss with German leaders how to further boost bilateral
ties and become bigger players in each other's markets by removing
trade and investment barriers.
Globalization faces increasing
challenges, especially with the UK departure from the EU and US
policy to make America Great Again, which is nothing but trade
protectionism. US President Trump has also pulled the United States
out of the global climate change agreement.
free trade and closer global connectivity, and remains committed to
fighting climate change.
For China, Germany is the way into the
A Postmodern Power
As a top exporter embedded in the Eurasian
continent, Germany is heavily invested in globalization.
Environmental, trade, and regulatory disruptions hurt it more than
most. Its defences are geopolitical alliances, diplomatic
compromises, and a dense web of links.
Angela Merkel has
moved closer to China in response to the US political turn, but has
kept her options open. She is constructively ambiguous. But she can
move fast and hard — flipping positions on nuclear power in 2011, on
refugees in 2015, and last month on EU treaty change in support of
Germany makes no pretence of
self-sufficiency. It accepts its own vulnerability, its own lack of
a reliable protector, its own inextricability from mutually
compromising alliances and sub-alliances. Ulrich Speck calls Germany
a postmodern power.
In the European Parliament we accept that
the Brexit decision was a democratic choice. We are not convinced
Brexit would be a positive development for European citizens. The UK
proposal fails to put citizens first and would cast a dark cloud
over the lives of millions of Europeans.
Michel Barnier wants
British people and Europeans to keep the same rights and the same
level of protection they currently enjoy under European law. All
rights acquired before the date of withdrawal will be directly
enforceable, with lifelong protection, full reciprocity and equal
treatment. A majority of the British people want to keep their EU
The UK response proposes that Europeans would
have fewer rights than British citizens are offered throughout the
EU. Europeans will not only lose their right to vote in local
elections, but family members will be subject to minimum income
requirements, and each family member, including children, will have
to make separate applications for settled status. Those who do not
meet the five-year residence requirement by the end of the grace
period will have to make one application to stay and another one for
The real cause for concern lies in the
continuing uncertainty. British courts apply the laws adopted by
British politicians. British and European citizens should be able to
enforce their rights under a mechanism in which the ECJ plays a full
Brexit negotiations must be completed by 30 March 2019.
Any extension would require the UK to hold European elections in May
2019. That is unthinkable.
A Better Way
Theresa May pledges to be more open and conciliatory and calls
on opponents to work together to shape a better way forward for
Britain after Brexit. She appeals to Labour and other parties to
come forward with their ideas for policy.
AR Internally, the only conceivable way
for the UK to make a success of Brexit is with cross-party
agreement. Externally, the only way is with EU good will.
Altogether, a better way to ensure UK success is to give up the
whole stupid idea.
2017 July 9
G20 Leaders' Declaration
G20 Germany 2017
Mastering the challenges of our age and shaping an
interconnected world is the common goal of the G20 as our premier
forum for international economic cooperation.
and technological change have contributed significantly to driving
economic growth and raising living standards across the globe.
However, globalisation has created challenges and its benefits have
not been shared widely enough. By bringing together developed and
emerging market economies, the G20 is determined to shape
globalisation to benefit all people.
We are resolved to
tackle common challenges to the global community, including
terrorism, displacement, poverty, hunger and health threats, job
creation, climate change, energy security, and inequality including
gender inequality, as a basis for sustainable development and
stability. We decide today to take concrete actions to advance the
three aims of building resilience, improving sustainability and
We take note of the decision of the
United States of America to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The
Leaders of the other G20 members state that the Paris Agreement is
irreversible. We reaffirm our strong commitment to the Paris
Agreement, moving swiftly towards its full implementation in
accordance with the principle of common but differentiated
responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of
different national circumstances.
I have zoomed on a hot topic, naturally.
German historian Rolf Peter Sieferle
took his own life last September at age 67. Last month, a posthumous
collection of his observations on German political culture,
Finis Germania, hit #9 on the Nonfiction Book of the Month list
and #1 on the Amazon German bestseller list.
and resents the tragic course of German history: "If Germany belongs
to the most progressive, civilized, cultivated countries, then
Auschwitz means that at any moment the human progress of modernity
can go into reverse."
Sieferle is critical of the postwar
culture of Holocaust memory, which he argues has taken on the traits
of a religion. Hitler bound Germans and Jews together in a narrative
for all time. Germans appear in this narrative as the absolute
enemies of our common humanity, as a scapegoat people.
Sieferle sees Germans as the new Jews. Christians had cast Jews as
either indifferent to or responsible for the crucifixion. Today,
German identity symbolizes a similar rejection of some kind of
revelation. Sieferle: "Today, the Jews, to whom God himself had
promised eternity, build memorials throughout the world to their
murdered coreligionists. Not only are the victims ascribed a moral
superiority, the wrongdoers and their symbols are ascribed an
Sieferle thought all this had left
Germans unable to say anything but yes to a million or so migrants
seeking entry to Europe in 2015. He thought such a welcome was
unsustainable. His argument can sound thoroughly offensive.
AR I must read this tract.
2017 July 8
UN Treaty Bans Nuclear Weapons
Countries meeting at a UN conference
adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Statement from France, UK, US
France, the United Kingdom,
and the United States have not taken part in the negotiation of the
treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. We do not intend to
sign, ratify or ever become party to it. Therefore, there will be no
change in the legal obligations on our countries with respect to
Putin v Trump
Vladimir Putin should not have had the upper
The Russian agenda
was to publicly mend the relationship, to gain a better
understanding of US policy, and to discuss joint concerns over
terrorism. They scored on all three.
intelligence agencies, Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and
many others are confident that the Russians intervened in the
American election last year. But a simple assurance from President
Putin overrides that. For the Russians, the public case is closed.
Fight Like the Poles
Sarah Palin tweet:
Trump Gives Speech to the
People of Poland, Says 14 Words That Leave Americans Stunned
Young Conservatives CEO Josh
This is the 14-word quote the social media post is
Let us all fight like the Poles. For family, freedom,
for country, for God.
AR Here is
an immortal episode from European history the Young Conservatives
In 1683, an Ottoman army of between one and two
hundred thousand men led by Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha advanced
on Vienna and besieged the city for two months, but was then
defeated by the combined forces of the Holy Roman Empire and the
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The death blow for the Ottomans came
when some twenty thousand cavalrymen — reputedly the largest cavalry
charge in history, led by King Jan III of Poland at the head of
three thousand "winged hussars" — charged down a hill and broke the
Ottoman lines. In less than three hours, the Christians had won.
Vienna was saved. After the battle, King Jan paraphrased Julius
Caesar by saying Venimus, Vidimus, Deus vincit (we came, we saw, God
conquered). The Christians pressed home their victory and forced the
Ottomans to give up large territories in Europe.
book Coral, p. 116)
2017 July 7
Physics in a Nutshell
"I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of
infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams."
Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell
Quantum field theory
remains the true theory of everything. All of physics can now be
said to be derivable from field theory. To start with, quantum field
theory contains quantum mechanics as a (0 + 1)‑dimensional field
theory, and to end (perhaps) with, string theory may be formulated
as a (1 + 1)‑dimensional field theory. Quantum field theory can
arguably be regarded as the pinnacle of human thought.
Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell
Einstein gravity has in
time become a model for theoretical physics. It remains to be seen
how fruitful this approach will prove to be, but there is no denying
its appeal for theoretical physicists. Latch onto a well-established
but not understood physical fact, start with an attractive
mathematical framework, get the whole enchilada in one fell swoop,
and enjoy a dramatic, almost immediate, confirmation. When this
approach works, as it did for Einstein, it's fabulous, no question.
Group Theory in a Nutshell for Physicists
Group theory is
much more than a temptress: it is our indispensable guide to a
fundamental understanding of the universe. The Lorentz group
determines for us how the fundamental fields should comport
themselves in spacetime. Eventually, group theory, together with
quantum field theory, shows us how three of the four fundamental
interactions can be unified. And thus we arrive at the threshold of
our understanding of the universe.
Great — were it not for the bad dreams of Brexit, nuclear
war, climate change ..
An image of
order in a city become an anarchist battlefield
G20 is the central forum for
international cooperation on
financial and economic issues.
G20 accounts for more than
of GWP, 75% of global
trade, and some 65% of
"The Liberal Democrats
do not want to go down the coalition road
again. I have
the metaphor of mating with
a praying mantis — you get
eaten at the end of it."
Presidents Trump and Duda
Warsaw on Thursday
Foreign Funded Islamist
Extremism in the UK
The Henry Jackson
US Forces Korea response
"My gift to American bastards!"
"Hard Brexit means
people fleeing UK"
AR Me 4 1
A photographic stroll along
the prom from Canford Cliffs
to Bournemouth Pier
60% of Brits want to remain
EU citizens after Brexit
2017 July 6
Glyndebourne Festival 2017
An opera in two acts by Brett
Dean, based on the play by William Shakespeare
AR A bold and vivid production with an
audaciously Wagnerian intensity
EU Red Lines
We must face the facts. In a classic
negotiation 'no deal' means a return to the status quo. In the case
of Brexit, 'no deal' is a return to a distant past.
heard some people in the UK argue that one can leave the single
market and build a customs union to achieve frictionless trade —
that is not possible.
1 The free
movement of persons, goods, services, and capital are indivisible.
We cannot let the single market unravel.
2 There can by no sector by sector
participation in the single market.
The EU must maintain full sovereignty for deciding regulations.
These three points were already made clear by the European
Council and by the European Parliament. But I am not sure whether
they have been fully understood across the Channel.
AR The UK government got it wrong. It
was clear to me from the start.
Vote Leave Doubts
As the reality of Brexit comes ever
closer, remainers concede that the only way it can be halted is if
British public opinion has a change of heart, collectively
repudiating their 2016 vote.
Vote Leave director Dominic
Cummings was behind the "£350 million for the NHS" slogan on the
side of the battlebus. He says that unless MPs force management
changes on both Downing Street and Dexeu, the Brexit negotiations
will be a guaranteed debacle. For Brexit to work, there has to be
wholesale reform of Whitehall, British education, science, and
productivity. He had already described Brexit as "the hardest job
since beating Nazis" and said it was being handled incompetently.
There will be more in this vein as the consequences of Brexit
become more real. As people see the scale of the upheaval, there
will be more people who admit they got it wrong.
AR Stuck as I am in the middle of this
horror, I can only hope good sense finally prevails.
Poland is an economic star. Since 1991, its
economy has grown at an average annual rate of 4%. Its average income has risen to near $13,000, from $2,300.
Poland set out to distance itself from Russia, and adopted the
financial discipline and institutional reforms required to join the
Warsaw is the conservative opposite of
decadent Moscow. Its tycoons embrace entrepreneurship with an
enthusiasm rarely found in Europe, making Poland a natural
US ally. Poland is already one of the few NATO members meeting its
commitment to spend at least 2% of GDP on defense.
Europe is rising, with small nations like the Czech Republic leading
and Poland close behind. With a population of nearly
40 million and a half-trillion-dollar economy, Poland is working its
way up as a manufacturing power. Exports from manufacturing account
for a third of GDP in Poland.
The Polish deficit and public
debt remain manageable, the currency remains stable, exports
continue to boom, and the trade balance is in surplus. Poland,
rising through manufacturing, is likely to be the next rich nation.
AR Poland's performance since 1991
outshines that of the UK.
Science communicators explain scientific
theory and practice to a general audience. As the sector has
expanded in recent years, the focus has become public engagement. A
British Science Association survey shows 20% of science
communicators in the UK work mainly as freelancers.
UK says funding bodies want to embed public engagement in
research. A University of Bristol national coordinating center for
public engagement (NCCPE)
provides funding for specific projects and says all research
programs must include public communication.
AR There is surely good work for me to
do in this sector.
2017 July 5
Korean War Plans
The United States has no viable military
option to destroy the NK nuclear program. Even a limited US strike
risks staggering casualties, because NK could retaliate with
thousands of artillery pieces aimed at SK. A strike would likely
fail to wipe out the NK arsenal. NK says it would immediately
retaliate with nuclear missiles.
Let China make the heavy move.
"Crush the Fuckers"
Theresa May has been reduced to dealing
with the DUP to secure a fragile Commons majority. Cabinet ministers
are breaking ranks on Brexit and the economy. A minister: "There is
no plan, no strategy, no direction."
In October, the
Conservative party conference in Manchester will showcase a party
torn over Brexit. A pro-EU MP on his Brextremist colleagues: "We can
work with half the Labour party and crush the fuckers."
AR Worse things have happened in
German chancellor Angela Merkel looks
set to be re-elected. Her main political opposition is trailing in
polls and the far right appears to have peaked.
ambassador to the US Peter Wittig: "We have an extremely good
economic run: record low unemployment, record low youth unemployment
.. pretty good social security system, less people that feel left
behind, less losers of globalization, not a dramatic inequality. So
there's a strong social tissue and that has helped us."
Nearly 70% of German voters favors EU membership. Wittig: "We have
benefited from Europe. We don't have this anti-Brussels discourse."
AR Germany is the cradle of European
With fossils and DNA, scientists are piecing
together a picture of human origins. The expert consensus is that
Homo sapiens evolved at least 300,000 years ago in Africa. Johannes
Krause and his colleagues report that Africans first walked out over
270,000 years ago and made their way to Europe.
AR Now the Africans are doing it again.
When Donald Trump travels to Europe, his
hosts can only hope he will not sabotage the western alliance.
Theresa May will be challenged to overcome damage already done by
the diplomatic vandalism of Brexit. The decision to quit the EU and
the Trump election are terrible twins.
everything May says in a miasma of unreliability. Her ambitions for
the UK will mean nothing before the terms of departure from the EU
are settled. She will find no queue of leaders eager to ingratiate
themselves with a country on the threshold of magnificent
Brexit did not beget Trump, but there is a
genetic link. The EU referendum demonstrated the insurgent potential
of a campaign that mobilized economic and cultural grievance against
a remote political elite. Trump called himself "Mr Brexit" and cast
Nigel Farage as his supporting act.
Many Europeans saw the
electoral shocks of 2016 as cautionary tales, not inspiring
parables. Neither the EU referendum nor US presidential election now
seems like a giant moment for geopolitics. The West has been doubly
AR Tragic —
Untergang des Abendlandes
2017 Independence Day
North Korea claims to have conducted its first
successful test of a long-range missile that it says can reach
anywhere in the world. The Hwasong-14 IRBM reached a height of 2,800
km during a flight of 37 minutes over a horizontal distance of 930
km. The regime appears to have timed the launch for maximum
political effect on the eve of the July 4 holiday.
Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything
better to do with his life?" Donald Trump tweeted, referring to Kim
Jong Un. "Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up
with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North
Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!"
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: "The situation on the Korean Peninsula
is sensitive and complex. We hope all relevant parties will exercise
restraint and avoid taking actions that may escalate tensions."
AR This looks ominously like Korean
The UK voted for the biggest international
dislocation in its postwar history but has no discernible strategy.
It is inconceivable that a deal can be negotiated by March 2019.
There are three broad scenarios for the post-Brexit economic
1 The UK stays in,
or close to, the EU single market, perhaps via the EEA.
2 The UK leaves the single market but
remains in a full or partial customs union.
The UK seeks the best preferential partnership it can get as a third
None of these outcomes matches the economic benefits
of EU membership.
Mark H. Kim
In February 2016, the leaders of the Laser
Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced that
they had successfully detected gravitational waves.
A team of
independent physicists led by Andrew Jackson has checked the data
and found correlations that should not be there. They say the
correlations could call the entire discovery into question.
LIGO scientific collaboration member Ian Harry published a rebuttal
of their criticism. Harry says the Jackson team missed some
subtleties in their data analysis, and that he could not reproduce
their claimed correlations.
Gravitational waves are
exceedingly faint, so LIGO can measure a change in distance of 100
zm. LIGO uses two observatories, 3 Mm apart to duplicate the
observations. The noise at each detector should be uncorrelated, but
a gravitational wave should create a nearly simultaneous signal in
Jackson claims there appears to be
correlated noise in the detectors at the time of the gravitational
wave signal. At worst, the signal might have been louder noise.
Harry says the Jackson team could have misused the Fourier
transform, which requires that the input data signal be cyclical. A
non-cyclical signal would introduce subtle errors.
confidence is high in the LIGO conclusions. The LIGO team have since
found gravitational waves from two further black hole mergers.
AR Science at its best — always
critical, always cautious.
Popular books on physics and physics textbooks
present different challenges. I enjoy writing textbooks a bit more
because the aim is to transmit enjoyment and knowledge to a new
generation of physicists, just as that enjoyment and knowledge have
been transmitted to me. That, in essence, is what physics is all
I am excited by the prospects of learning more about
the dark world of energy and matter, and of experimentalists coming
up with clever new approaches. I am struggling to finish a short
popular book on Einstein gravity.
I am just embarking on climbing the mountain of Zee's
Nutshell trilogy. For me it will be a tough but hopefully also
2017 July 3
Two new genetic technologies have started a
scientific and medical revolution. One is the ability to easily
decode the information in our genes. The other is our newfound
capacity to modify or edit the DNA sequences of humans and other
The genomes of microbes contain regular DNA
sequences called CRISPR — clustered regularly interspersed short
palindromic repeats. The bits of DNA found in the spaces between the
repeats had come from viruses and had been integrated into the
The CRISPR sequences activate a series of
proteins known as CRISPR-associated proteins that can unravel and
attack DNA. The CRISPR sequence and one such protein act together as
a kind of immune system for microbes.
proteins can be used to alter any DNA to achieve a desired sequence.
If you know a DNA sequence from a given organism, you can chop it
up, delete it, and change it at will, much like using a
word-processing program on texts.
Gene drives are artificial
bits of DNA that rapidly spread through the population. When a gene
drive is used, the frequency of the altered gene increases
exponentially with each generation, rapidly flooding the whole
population. A gene drive is essentially a biological bomb.
2017 July 2
National Rifle Association of America
use their media to assassinate real news. They use their schools to
teach children that their president is another Hitler. They use
their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to
repeat their narrative over and over again ...
All to make
them march. Make them protest. Make them scream racism and sexism
and xenophobia and homophobia. To smash windows, burn cars, shut
down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding
The only way we stop this, the only way we save our
country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the
clenched fist of truth.
Grace Under Fire
The New York Times
Donald Trump lacks the
grace under fire that Richard Nixon showed in public. At the height
of Watergate in late 1973, Nixon blurted at a news conference: "I
have never heard or seen such outrageous, vicious, distorted
reporting in 27 years of public life. I am not blaming anybody for
that. Perhaps what happened is that what we did brought it about."
Jeremy Corbyn addressed
thousands on Saturday at an anti-Tory rally in London organized by
the People's Assembly Against Austerity.
Jez: "This is the
movement that will win the next election."
Been There, Done That
Something momentous happened in Britain's relations
with Europe. About a year later, Britain has a minority government
cutting deals to try to get its legislation
through the House of Commons. A wooden Tory prime minister,
confident of a landslide victory in an election called in the
national interest and on the question of whom voters trust to run
the country in challenging times, ends up with egg on face. Britain
enters a period of profound political instability.
The prime minister was Ted Heath, the year was 1974. The UK joined
the EEC in 1973 and a large majority of Brits voted in the 1975
referendum to stay in it.
Times change: The EEC is now the EU and the UK looks like FUK.
A Green Brexit
I want to ensure that we have
a green Brexit: a Brexit which ensures that we develop policies on
the environment and animal welfare which we would not have been able
to do in the EU.
One of the things I want to do is see how we
can better support investment in environmental goods rather than
simply rewarding people for the number of hectares they have. If
you've got a sum of money that large, it shouldn't be devoted to
maintaining certain landowners in the style to which they have
AR Gove was on
the Andrew Marr show this morning.
Marr: "Is no
deal better than a bad deal?"
The inflationary multiverse might be the
same as the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics if the
formation of new bubble universes is simply an example of
quantum-mechanical branching as viewed by a single hypothetical
observer: a new bubble forming is equivalent to obtaining an outcome
of a measurement. This picture solves the theory's predictability
problem because the infinitely many bubble universes in this case
coexist probabilistically rather than in one real space. In this
conception, the observer in an inflationary multiverse can make
predictions based on the probability of any event occurring.
AR This is good — it makes everything
finite. Our Hubble bubble contains some 10^123 Planck grains of
action, so even with some combinatorial jiggery-pokery the state
space can be finite. And the principle of stationary action implies
that broad outcomes are predictable even when individual state
reductions are random on our timeline. So forget the infinite cosmic
bubble bath Max Tegmark and Sean Carroll expected and forget the
Everett nightmare of branching off into crazy worlds — we live on
a timeline where all those crazy action paths cancel in the Feynman
path integrals and everything is finite. Let's hope Nomura is right.
2017 July 1
World War II
In 1940, as France was collapsing under the
German onslaught and the Dunkirk evacuation was under way, Winston
Churchill decided to fight on, alone if necessary. He was the
British bulldog, an incarnation of strength, courage, and tenacity.
In the austere aftermath of the war,
its grim experiences were replayed in countless movies. They all
assumed it was fought for a just cause. Shocking newsreel pictures
of the liberation of Belsen consecrated it as a triumphant crusade
War films helped to sustain pride in British
greatness as the exhausted country tried to win the peace while
beset by grievous new troubles. In 1945 Britain was virtually
bankrupt, facing what John Maynard Keynes called an economic
Churchill's ghost haunts the bronze bust that Donald
Trump restored to the Oval Office. Boris Johnson assures us that
national salvation is to be found in standing alone. A fresh crop of
war films reminds us of lost British greatness.
Free LSD For All!
If I ruled the world, I would step down and
go back to theoretical physics. First I would:
Abolish borders and armies
● Abolish private property
● Abolish such documents as passports
● Abolish religion
● Abolish tribal behavior
And I would
make free LSD available for all adolescents willing to explore new
AR Oh Carlo, your
book on quantum
gravity is lovely but this lot is utopian (except for the LSD
idea, which is cute).
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) High Resolution Imaging Science
Experiment (HiRISE) image of a small impact crater
on the sloping
wall of a larger crater. North is up, the slope is down westward, and the area shown is about 250 m
FUK v EUSSR
Theresa May told the EU she
cannot control her
So EU delegates are visiting
UK ministries to thrash out a
unified British position on
which the EU can talk.
EU lead Brexit
Michel Barnier: "This is a crisis
on Europe's doorstep. The EU
has no choice but to intervene,
if only for humanitarian
Die Konzentration von
Dichlormethan in der
Atmosphäre steigt an.
Der Chloranteil kann
HMS Queen Elizabeth
His AdS/CFT duality links
anti-de Sitter spacetime to conformal
field theory on its
boundary — the holographic
ER = EPR claim
links spacetime wormholes
to quantum entanglements
British schoolboy heat
Looks good — apart from
those stupid neckties
Because she was not
to express her own view
Mrs Windsor chose to
to get her message
Her Speech heralds Brexit,
her hat says otherwise
2017 June 30
US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross says
Germany must buy raw materials from the United States instead of
from Russia, lower tariffs on automobile imports from US
manufacturers, and make sure American cars "obtain a larger share"
of the European market.
Donald Trump could turn the G20
summit into a fiasco. His America First administration is sabotaging
the search for joint positions among the G20 economies by seeing the
world not as a global community but as an arena in which dog eats
Transatlantic trade conflicts are multiplying.
Washington views the EU fine levied against Google as a hostile act,
and might back out of the joint fight against tax havens and tax
dumping and for the joint regulation of financial markets and banks.
European G20 participants will form a common front against
AR UK too?
A Lot of Bother
An enduring myth among the elites of
Westminster is that the argument over Brexit is won or lost by
polemic and emotion. The British public were asked to vote in the
referendum, so felt duty bound to do so. Some now say they would
vote the other way.
More and more people are bewildered at
the complexity of it all and frustrated at the incompetence on show.
Voters were promised a quick and easy Brexit. There is only so much
squabbling between members of the Cabinet that people will put up
People who knew it would be complex said Brexit would
be as simple as flipping a switch. They told us that the EU needs us
more than we need them, so we can just walk out overnight. They
refused to listen to others who knew what they were talking about.
David Davis says Brexit makes the NASA Moon shot look quite
simple. People were promised a walk in the park to Brexit, not a
death defying Moon landing. That is certainly a whole lot of bother
beyond what most voters expect or want.
AR Clegg went to a lot of bother to prop up the Conservatives
back in 2010 and and in return was left for dead in 2015 by the rapacious scoundrels of the hard
2017 June 29
Possibly coming soon — another UK general
Boris "Bojo" Johnson fights Jeremy "Jez" Corbyn for the
title of next prime minister:
recalls the days when Britain ruled the waves
— speaks for
continuing Anglophone supremacy
— continues to insist Britain can
have its cake and eat it
— has always had a strained relationship
with the truth
— has ambition undimmed by a woeful performance at
the Foreign Office
— recalls the
revolutionary socialism of his youth
— sees the EU as a
— casts himself the honest politician in a
sea of cynicism
— has policies that may be barmy but are
— may have lost the last election but won what pundits
More than a year after the referendum, there is still no plan
Just Bojo versus Jez.
Brexit Battlebus — Dangerous Driver
Brexit secretary David Davis says sunny uplands lie ahead. An EU
deal by March 2019 will give us almost all the trading benefits we
currently enjoy and will quickly leave us free to sign trade
agreements with the rest of the world. But EU officials say leaving
the EU means the UK will trade on worse terms than now.
has sublime confidence. Those who have worked with him say he hates
to listen to advice, has delusions of grandeur, is vain and
quixotic, and is all noise and bluster. Apparently he has no
practical sense of the realities he is about to confront and prefers
assertion to getting to grips with inconvenient facts.
department, Dexeu, is finding it hard to recruit and keep staff. It
has issued no details on how new arrangements for customs,
immigration, or the Irish border would work. Industry
representatives who visited Dexeu were left aghast at its approach
and were fobbed off with vague assurances that it would all be fine.
Davis is said to have learned more realism than Liam Fox and
Boris Johnson, but he has no interest in evidence that does not suit
him. As the UK chief negotiator, he needs a shrewd grasp of British
strategic needs and relative weakness. His role is not to grandstand
or cheerlead, but to be a tactful and wily realist.
Tory peer and Brexiteer: "I am frankly scared. I'd be surprised if
it all went right now."
2017 June 28
The European Commission, under direction
from EU27 leaders, wants the rights of the 3 million EU citizens
living in the UK and of the British diaspora in the EU guaranteed by
the European Court of Justice. They want to secure the status of
those citizens against the whims of a simple majority vote in the UK
The UK is one of the few countries in
the EU where political elites can dismiss checks on legislative
power by saying: "Well, what's the worst that could happen?" For the
leaders of most EU27 states, a guarantee not backed up by the
European Court of Justice is no guarantee at all.
Brextremists are concerned about sovereignty. Remaining subject to
the rule of the ECJ without being able to set its parameters
represents a significant loss of sovereignty. So Brexit minister
David Davis concedes that there will have to be an international
guarantor for any trade deal.
A new EU-UK international body
would satisfy the letter of Theresa May's ECJ red line. On the EU27
side, the body would take its lead from ECJ and hence effectively
subject the UK to the ECJ. You cannot satisfy both popular demand
for hard borders and political demand for sovereignty at once.
AR A sovereign UK would have no
brake to hinder a strong leader with a big parliamentary majority
from ruling effectively by fiat, for example to expel foreigners.
This constitutional deficit would represent a European fire risk.
2017 June 27
EU competition commissioner Margrethe
Vestager: "Google's strategy for its comparison shopping service
wasn't just about attracting customers by making its product better
than those of its rivals. Instead, Google abused its market
dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison
shopping service in its search results and demoting those of
competitors. What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust
AR Google will see
the €2.4 billion fine as
a tax bill.
The New York Times
President Trump is siding with Sunni
Saudi Arabia and demonizing Shiite Iran.
In Syria, Iran and
the United States share a common goal of defeating Daesh. But US officials fear the Iranians will seek control of
enough territory in Syria and Iraq to establish a land bridge from
Tehran to Lebanon. There they could resupply their Hezbollah allies.
Daesh is close to being routed from its headquarters in the city
of Raqqa. But the prospect of victory has opened the door to new
tensions between US and Iranian forces. US officials suspect that
Iran is more interested in controlling territory in these areas than
Russia threatened to retaliate to recent US
"self defense" moves by treating US warplanes as targets. Despite
this, administration officials seem to consider Iran a bigger
problem than Moscow.
Demonizing Iran could broaden the US
military mission in the region.
Theresa May locks in parliamentary majority
with £1 billion in promises to the DUP of Northern Ireland. The deal
buys two years of support for her government.
AR That's an extra fiver a
week per citizen in Northern Ireland.
2017 June 26
US Military Power
President Donald Trump has overseen a
transfer of power from the White House to the Pentagon.
Afghanistan, Trump has empowered defense secretary James Mattis to
set troop levels. In Yemen and Somalia, Trump has given US
commanders more freedom to launch raids and airstrikes without his
OK. In Iraq and Syria, he has also granted the Pentagon more freedom
to manage troop levels.
Trump administration officials
describe the changes as a deliberate effort to empower the military.
Much of the top brass described the Obama administration oversight
of military campaigns as micromanagement that needlessly hamstrung
Retired General John Allen backs letting the
military carry out missions more effectively and maintain the
momentum against the enemy: "Many of these targets are very
perishable. Every time I or other commanders had to come back to
Washington for permissions, everything slowed down."
Bannon: "The president believes the best thing to do is to let the
warfighters fight the war."
2017 June 25
Weak Gravity and Cosmic Censorship
Singularities are snags in spacetime
where general relativity breaks down and a quantum theory is needed.
Naked singularities have now been shown not to exist in a toy 4D
universe with an anti-de Sitter (AdS) spacetime geometry.
weak gravity conjecture (WGC) is that gravity must always be the
weakest force in any viable universe. Jorge Santos and Toby Crisford
found that if another force in the toy universe is stronger than
gravity, the singularity is censored by a black hole. It seems the
cosmic censorship conjecture (CCC) is saved just where gravity
becomes the weakest force.
It was thought that naked
singularities can exist in a 4D AdS universe with a bounded
spacetime — inside a tin can, say. But imagine an electromagnetic
(EM) field and a gravitational field coexisting in the can. Cranking
up the energy of the EM field on the surface of the can will cause
spacetime to curve more sharply inside it, to form a naked
Cumrun Vafa was working to rule out large swaths
of the 10^500 different possible universes that string theory
naively allows. He did this by identifying swamplands where
universes were too absurd to exist, and proposed the WGC as a
swamplands test. Universes seem to fail unless gravity is weaker
than the other forces, so the WGC swamps huge regions of the string
Vafa saw a link between the WGC and CCC. When
Santos and Crisford cranked up the strength of the EM field on the
surface of their can, they originally assumed that the interior was
classical, with no quantum fluctuations. But if singular particles
are more strongly coupled to the EM field than to gravity, as per
the WGC, then cranking up the EM field adds enough energy to trigger
collapse of singularities to black holes, as per the CCC.
Perhaps WGC iff CCC.
Jez We Can!
Glastonbury ravers burst out in Corbynmania when Jeremy Corbyn
arrived in a Somerset field to find hordes of young women with
"Jezza" and "I love Jez" written on their foreheads in glitter.
Corbyn, 68, was the first leading politician to appear at
Glastonbury since the festival began 47 years ago — and no one was
complaining that Theresa May had not shown up.
in chants of "Oh Je-rem-y Cor-byn" and "Jez we can" as he waved his
little red book (the Labour manifesto) and attacked the elites who
had got it wrong.
Spreadsheet Phil For PM!
Philip Hammond could replace Theresa May as UK prime minister in
a temporary alliance with Brexit minister David Davis. Ministers say Hammond should be anointed as leader before October
provided he vows to stand down as Conservative leader before the
A minister: "I think Philip is the only
plausible candidate for a couple of years, with DD running Brexit.
He is a more credible caretaker than the current prime minister."
DD: "It will be turbulent"
UK secretary of state for exiting the EU
David Davis says a leadership election to oust Theresa May would
have a catastrophic effect on Brexit negotiations. He was unsure
about securing a Brexit deal: "I never said it was a breeze. I said
it will be turbulent, there will be difficulties but at the end
there is a point of common interest."
On EU citizens in the
UK: "They get the same residence rights, the same employment rights,
the same rights, the same health rights, the same welfare rights,
the same pensions rights and so on, almost the same as British
citizens. The only thing they don't get is the right to vote — and
we ask for the same the other way."
The disagreement came
over the role of the European Court of Justice.
2017 June 24
Uranus has the weirdest magnetic field in
our solar system. A new model suggests that the edge of its
magnetic field bubble could be opening and shutting every day.
Most of the planets in our solar system rotate around similar axes,
spinning in the same plane as their orbit. Their magnetic fields are
aligned on the same axes, with field lines emerging from the cores
of the planets near their N and S poles and wrapping them in
Uranus is different. Its rotational axis is
tilted about 1.7 rad from the plane of its orbit around the sun. The
axis of its magnetic field is tilted 1.0 rad from the rotational axis and
offset, with field lines emerging some distance from the S pole.
The Uranian magnetosphere tumbles in a complicated way. Carol
Paty and Xin Cao created a model of the magnetosphere and its
interactions with the solar wind that fits the best data to date.
The magnetosphere forms a shield against the solar wind: when
the two are moving in the same direction, the solar wind slides by.
But when they move in opposed directions, the bubble shield lets some wind
particles flow inward.
Such magnetic reconnection occurs
occasionally over Earth and can lead to intense auroras. On Uranus,
Paty and Cao found that it should happen every U-day (about 62 ks),
switching the bubble shield on and off. This could lead to auroras
The best data on the field around Uranus is from from
the Voyager 2 flyby in 1986. NASA dreams of sending a new probe to
Uranus in 2034.
Dunkirk without the boats
Brexit will be dropped like a
broken toy around 2020:
Labour will quietly ask the EU if we can
stay after all.
2017 June 23
An International Laughing Stock
The pageantry of the Queen's speech is easy
to mock. But this time the farce had nothing to do with the fancy
costumes and archaic language. The UK has chosen to legislate itself
out of the EU without having anything remotely resembling a credible
plan for national prosperity on the other side.
of Tory manifesto were expunged from the government agenda. Yet the
Queen's speech contained eight bills relating to Brexit. Just one of
them is so monstrously complicated it is hard to imagine parliament
having the capacity to do much else over the next two years.
On Monday, Brexit secretary David Davis led his negotiators into
their first session with their EU counterparts, led by Michel
Barnier. The only measurable outcome was total capitulation by the
UK side on the question of sequencing for the talks ahead. The EU27
insisted that agreement on divorce terms must precede discussion of
future trading arrangements. The UK team had intended to dispute
this timetable — but promptly folded.
Article 50 is
activated. The clock is counting down, and the pretence that May
might be prepared to walk away without a deal is melting. The bluff
was called on day one.
A tragic folly is unfolding. The UK
parliament is an international laughing stock, and not because of
the silly wigs or the funny hat on a stick.
You Have To Laugh
Britain has become the laughing stock
of Europe. The British people were lied to by the Leave campaign and
treated like idiots by the popular press. The economic outlook is
dire — yet Brexit negotiations have hardly begun.
will withdraw from its main trading alliance. It would make sense to
stay in the single market and the customs union, but that would mean
being subject to regulations over which Britain no longer had any
say. Better to have stayed in the EU in the first place.
EU is dealing with a government that has no idea what it it wants.
The UK had finally found a new place in the world as a strong,
awkward, and influential part of the EU. Now it has fallen into an
identity crisis, a fit of madness.
2017 June 22
The Queen's Speech
Theresa May has delivered a threadbare
Queen's Speech that befits her lame government. Most of the measures
in her manifesto have been ditched.
legislative package was dominated by eight measures on Brexit. May
has not yet secured a deal with the DUP, so the Government will have
to live from hand to mouth in the Commons. The
Tory party's civil war on Europe between Europhiles and
Brextremists has flared up again.
There may be no majority among MPs for hard
Brexit. There will certainly be none if May tries to walk away from
the EU negotiations without an agreement. Her "no deal is better
than a bad deal" mantra might apply to the DUP talks, but on the
Brexit negotiations it is dead.
The House of Lords, which
would have swallowed its doubts about hard Brexit if May had
enhanced her majority, will now feel no such constraint. Peers will
certainly get their teeth into the Repeal Bill, which would allow
ministers to change EU laws without full parliamentary scrutiny.
Conservative MPs do not want a general election, but if
necessary they will not hesitate to force May out.
the longest and hottest day over Poole Bay
"I want to make Mars seem
possible — make it seem as
is something that
we can do in our lifetime.
There really is a way
anyone could go if they
EU More Popular
Pew survey of 10,000 people
across the EU
in positive opinions of EU
compared with a year ago:
Germany 68% (up 18 pp)
France 56% (up 18 pp)
UK 54% (up 10
EU estimates presented
€100 billion (€60 billion
€60 billion (€40 billion net)
Trump under investigation
for possibly obstructing justice
in relation to a criminal probe
Trump tweet: "They made up
a phony collusion with the
Russians story, found zero
so now they go for
obstruction of justice on
the phony story.
AR Dude's a bozo.
2017 Summer Solstice
The harder the Brexit, the bigger the cost. The
same goes for Britain's role and influence in the world. Leaving the
EU removes the platform Britain has this century for projecting its
Britain's decline from being the leading power began
in 1914 and continued until 1980. The decline resumed after 2008.
Brexit threatens to accelerate that decline.
thread in British influence since the end of the cold war is our
cooperation with France and Germany. The three powers represent
Europe and together count for something in the world.
democratic country can be a power in the world unless it has a
thriving economy. We also have to be part of a wider team. Britain
on its own will count for little in the west.
We will be part
of NATO. But as the US withdraws from global leadership, the regions
the US has protected since 1945 have to determine their own defence
and security. That includes Europe.
I doubt that our current
leaders will countenance a strategic rethink. We need to remain
joined to our continental partners. If we can no longer help shape
the world, others will do it for us.
2017 June 20
Asgardia is open to all residents on planet Earth and
is free to join. Since Igor Ashurbeyli announced his plans to form
an independent nation that operates in outer space in October 2016,
hundreds of thousands of people have signed up to be citizens.
Asgardia will establish a physical presence in space via a
series of satellites. Ashurbeyli says the first will be launched
into Earth orbit in September 2017. The data includes things like
family photos, says Ashurbeyli.
Going forward, the Asgardia
team hopes to create habitable platforms in LEO. Ashurbeyli says our
real home is planet Earth: "Going to Mars, the galactics, so on —
that's just fake. I intend something more real."
Since launching in 2009, the NASA Kepler
mission has observed more than 200,000 stars in search of
exoplanets. Kepler has now identified 4,034 planet candidates, 2,335
of them confirmed as exoplanets and more than 30 of the confirmed
planets similar in size to Earth.
The Kepler mission has
shown that the smaller exoplanets fall into two distinct sizes:
Earth-like planets and super-Earths, and gaseous mini-Neptunes.
Altogether, Kepler has found that exoplanets can be cold gas giants,
hot Jupiters, ocean worlds, ice giants, lava worlds, and rocky
This is the final catalog detailing exoplanet
candidates and confirmations from Kepler mission K1. From 2009 to
2014, Kepler observed part of the constellation Cygnus. Kepler
broadened its search in K2 to include other parts of our galaxy. The
mission will end in October.
2017 June 19
Emmanuel I of France
Emmanuel Macron has won. The second round of
French legislative elections give his La République En Marche party
and its centrist allies 350 of 577 seats. Les Républicains and their
allies won 131 seats, the Parti Socialiste 29. Less than 44% of the
electorate turned out to vote.
2017 June 18
NATO v Russia
The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad was
surrounded on three sides by NATO forces yesterday in Operation
Saber Strike and BALTOPS. The Russian Baltic fleet is based in
Kaliningrad and the exclave is defended by nuclear-capable Iskander
The exercises included deployment of B-52, B-1B, and
B-2 bombers, showing US commitment "to ready and posture forces focused
on deterring conflict". Moscow responded by
flying two Tu-160 Blackjack bombers with fighter jets and a
spy plane over the Baltic Sea.
Last week the NATO exercises
consisted of live fire by heavy artillery in the Suwalki Gap, a 100
km stretch of land between Kaliningrad and Belarus.
commander Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Gventer: "Our focus here is to
deter and defend the alliance from aggression by being razor sharp
and lethal. God forbid we would have to defend, but we create a
deterrent effect by being credible."
2017 June 17
A Great Chancellor
Helmut Kohl (Kanzler 1982—1998) reunited Germany,
cemented its role with France at the heart of Europe, and pushed to
introduce the euro.
Entanglement is key to quantum networks and
quantum cryptography, but it is easily disrupted by interference
from the environment. Entangled photons face interference in the
lower 10 km or so of the atmosphere but are more isolated in space.
A new record for entanglement used a satellite to connect Earth
sites separated by up to 1200 km.
The satellite Quantum
Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) was launched from Jiuquan, China,
in 2016 to orbit at an altitude of about 500 km. QUESS generated
entangled pairs of photons and transmitted them to ground stations
in China. One member of each pair went to one site and the other to
another, over distances from 500 to 2000 km.
distance was set by photons beamed at the cities of Delingha and
Lijiang in China, with experiments achieving 10^17 greater
efficiency at transmitting entangled photons than the best optical
fibers. The experiments generated about 6 million entangled pairs of
photons per second and the researchers detected about 1 pair per
Researchers in Germany measured the quantum coherence
of laser signals from about 40 Mm away. Physicists at MPI Erlangen,
Germany, worked with the Alphasat I-XL satellite in geostationary
Earth orbit, which communicates via laser signals with a ground
station in Spain. The work suggests global quantum crypto key
distribution is feasible.
2017 June 16
In this new addition to the cult of Winston,
starring Brian Cox, scripted by Alex von Tunzelmann and directed by
Jonathan Teplitzky, Churchill betrays his private agony on the eve
AR It worked for me.
Refracting the heart of the war leader through a few days in
June 1944, the tale steered short of hagiography and made a useful
counterpoint to the comparably illuminating Hitler movie
Brexit Is Dead
The Conservative party has lost face. The
UK is the most connected country in Europe — look at the financial
center in London, UK-based carmakers, what's left of British
industry. Continentals have stakes in UK electricity, waterworks,
and airports, and supply a quarter of all NHS doctors.
Brexit would let the UK remain a part of the single market. It would
mean accepting EU immigration and EU regulations — bad perhaps, but
better than no deal at all. With no deal, investors face
uncertainty, stunted growth, less trade, and higher taxes.
The promise of Brexit was a fairy
tale based on jingoism. Brexit was never a very good idea. Now, in
practical terms, it is dead.
Brexit Saved Europe
Watching Brexit unfold is such a pleasure.
One year on from the referendum, it is now clear that leaving the EU
is exceptionally difficult, carries an undeniable cost, and plays
havoc with the politics of the country attempting it.
A victory for leave
has shattered the dreams of
all the Europhobes and Eurosceptics across the union against the
brick wall of reality. So I would like to thank the British people,
who have shown a spirit of sacrifice that is greatly to their
Brexit has acted as a deterrent that united Europeans
as never before. For the past year, the British political class have
revealed their complete recklessness. Brexit amounts to a loss of
influence and an abdication of shared sovereignty in the union.
2017 June 15
Trump: The Nightmare
Donald Trump is funny. The sheer recklessness
of the things he says takes the breath away. He turned everybody on.
He spent much of his career on the bottom rungs of the entertainment
industry. The guy's played one toilet after another. And in so doing
he's honed his common touch.
A billionaire who started out
life a millionaire has become the working-class hero. Like, how much
of a nitwit is Average Joe for imagining that Trump is his man.
Trump is Average Joe except filthy stinking rich, part con man and
part ham actor. He isn't a president, he's a reality star.
Trump is a big butch American hot dog. He's a swinging dick and an
alpha male, a maker of deals and a builder of buildings. He isn't
one of those sissies who need a woman to sign a permission slip
before he'll try to hold her hand. Hell no, he grabs pussy first,
asks questions later.
Trump feeds off the ardor of his fans,
and his best outcome was defeat in a squeaker. Then he'd spend the
rest of his days shaking a fist at the system. Instead, victory. Now he's only a short jump to the nightmare: the crowd's love
turning into hate, the cheers into jeers.
May: The Cliff
Theresa May has accepted responsibility for her profound
misjudgment of politics. Over the past year she has been disdainful
and delusional. She has utterly failed to recognize the terrifying
complexity of withdrawing from the EU, the truth that our economy
needs the EU far more than they need us, and the bleak consequences
if we crash out without a deal.
The prime minister has no
mandate from the public for hard Brexit and no majority in
parliament for anything. An eighth of the time on the Brexit clock
has been wasted on this election. Europe can either make these talks
as productive as possible or so slow and awkward that no deal is
made. May can only avert disaster by creating goodwill and building
A former ambassador: "It's going to get very
bitter and twisted over the next 18 months, and she'll need a pool
of good faith. She has to understand that it's up to her, because
Europe's view is: If they want to drive themselves off a cliff,
they're going to find it bloody cold at the bottom."
AR Perhaps it was deliberate: "Let them
eat Brexit" — only then can facts prevail.
2017 June 14
View From Denmark
Road to Brexit, Copenhagen
Danish finance minister
Kristian Jensen: "There are two kinds of European nations. There are
small nations and there are countries that have not yet realised
they are small nations. It is a paradox that the country that once
had an empire on which the sun never sets, that ruled the waves,
that in its heart is truly global, is now drawing back from the
world's most successful free trade area."
Jensen reflected on
British membership of the G7, the G20, and the UN permanent security
council: "There is still this notion in some countries that because
they have been the rulers of the 20th century they will continue to
be that in the 21st century. They are a member of all these groups,
but what has happened to the value of the pound since Brexit? What
will happen in the coming years when the finance sector is perhaps
looking to Frankfurt or Paris? What will happen when inflation
rises? How will they be in the future? I am very concerned about
Britain's economy right now."
Denmark has taken Brexit very
badly. Danish Chamber of Commerce CEO Jens Klarskov: "I think the
response ranges from surprise to repulsion. How can they do that?
Would you leave your best friends among enemies? That’s what you've
done. We were best pals and now you are leaving us."
The UK is in a spectacular mess. Europhobic
obsession over EU membership has brought the country to a crisis. We
cannot assume economic life as we know it will continue after a
There is no binary choice between Remain and
Leave. Britain is now uniting Europe against the UK. That is a
Harold Macmillan understood that the UK
had a strategic interest in being part of a strong Europe. The best
choice for the UK remains to Remain. All the alternatives are much
The UK is trapped between an EU rock and a hard
Brexit. No Brexit is far better than no deal. But a bad deal, or
none, lies ahead.
AR What next —
a military putsch to impose martial law and abandon Brexit? The
putschists would have to be republicans — the Queen might prefer
a hard Brexit.
"I'm backing Theresa May.
get on with the job."
"I will continue for as long
as you want me to do
Philip Hammond is the only
figure in the cabinet who can
salvage something from the
wreckage of the Brexilection.
Colleagues say Boris Johnson
plotting a new power grab.
Hammond is more concerned
securing a reasonable
outcome to the Brexit
"Dead woman walking"
USAF B-1B Lancer bombers
deploy to England for
2 in 3 Conservative party
members say May
"After this election, there's
no mandate for the hard Brexit
the prime minister put forward
— but there's no mandate to
Brexit either. With
no majority in Parliament,
position just got weaker."
Lord Peter Ricketts
Fiona Hill resign
At the Poole count
2017 June 13
France v Britain
Theresa May will enter the Brexit
negotiations gravely weakened after the British general election.
Emmanuel Macron is poised to emerge from French elections with a
huge parliamentary majority.
Macron will see Brexit as a
historic opportunity. Macron has a vision of a revitalized France
inside a revitalized EU that works better if Brexit proceeds
uninterrupted. Macron wants much deeper EU integration on defense
and finance, and Britain has been a brake on European federalism.
Macron needs to show French voters that leaving the EU will
bring only pain. If he can also rebuild the Franco-German
partnership at the heart of the EU, he can restore the popularity of
the European project in France. With Britain out of the EU, there is
a better chance of restarting the drive for European integration.
The opportunities for France are economic as much as political.
If Britain excludes itself from the EU single market, France has a
unique chance to hoover up jobs in finance and manufacturing. Macron
has little economic or political incentive to make concessions on
migration or money.
As President Macron pursues French
interests, he will occupy the moral high ground. Britain has brought
its fate upon itself, while he is motivated by a desire to protect
the European project.
Get On With It!
Next week, it will be three months after
the sending of the Article 50 letter. We have not progressed. We
must begin this negotiation. We are ready as soon as the UK is
My preoccupation is that time is passing, The subjects
we have to deal with are extraordinarily complex. It will take us
several months to draw out the conditions of an orderly withdrawal,
so let us not waste time.
From my side, there is no spirit of
revenge, no punishment, no naivety either. There is truth on what
Brexit means, what leaving the EU signifies by its consequences. The
citizens have the right to know this truth.
AR We could invite Barnier to serve as
guest UK prime minister.
2017 June 12
France Is Back
President Macron strengthened his grip on power as his centrist
party La République En Marche swept to an overwhelming victory in
the first round of parliamentary elections. The party is on course
to secure a landslide of between 415 and 445 of the 577 seats in the
AR This is
what the UK needs — a new hero, a new party, new hope.
A Softer Tone
Theresa May faces a showdown with
re-elected Conservative MPs today. The party civil war on Europe may
be about to reignite as she tries to negotiate a deal with the DUP.
May had to abandon plans for a sweeping cabinet reshuffle,
including the expected sacking of her chancellor Philip Hammond.
Instead most of her senior team stay in place.
appointed Damian Green (PPE, Oxford, and a staunch pro-European) as
first secretary of state, in effect deputy PM. He will play a key
role in setting Brexit policy.
Theresa May saw that the popular will had
been established on that sacred referendum day. Boris Johnson
promised that Britain could have its cake and eat it. After the
election, the unified people would have a unified parliament and a
strong leader to stand on the cliffs of Dover and shake her spear of
sovereignty at the damn continentals.
All May had to do was
repeat the words "strong and stable" over and over and Labour would
be crushed forever. Britain would become one-party state, and Europe
would bow and concede a Brexit deal in which supplies of cake would
be infinitely renewed. There were three problems:
1 May demanded an enormous majority so
that she could ride out into the Brexit battle without having to
worry about mutterings in the ranks behind her. But to win an
election, you need a convincing narrative.
2 The Conservatives tried to build a
personality cult around a robotic politician. The party has plunged
the UK into an existential crisis because it was too weak to stand
up to a few nationalist zealots and tabloid press barons.
3 The idea of a single British people
united by the Brexit vote is ludicrous. Not only do Scotland,
Northern Ireland, and London have large anti-Brexit majorities, but
many of those who did vote for Brexit are deeply unhappy about the
effects of government austerity policies.
May will form a
government with the support of the DUP. That government will be weak
and unstable and it will have no real authority to negotiate an
agreement with the European Union. Brexit is thus far from being a
Theresa May went into the
contest seeking a stronger negotiating hand with the EU. But she had
nothing to say about Brexit that she wanted to share with the
electorate. She gave the impression that we should trust her to get
the deal done, not worry our silly little heads about the detail.
The manifesto failed because May and her inner circle rebuffed
almost every single person who offered advice. They forgot the
golden rule of political survival: listen. Her presidential campaign
kept ministers away from the cameras and put her before
candidates on their own leaflets.
Anyone with the interests
of the country at heart would be building a cross-party and business
alliance to tackle Brexit. Instead, we have delusion and denial. It
cannot be long before May is challenged for the leadership.
Since Galilieo, science has been one long
success story. It has uncovered the workings of nature and brought
untold benefits to humanity. Philosophy has done less well.
But philosophers hand things over to scientists. All
new sciences start as branches of philosophy, and only become
established as separate disciplines once philosophy has bequeathed
them the intellectual capital to survive on their own.
Physics as we know it was grounded in the mechanical philosophy of
Descartes and others. Whenever philosophy makes progress, it spawns
a new subject, which then no longer counts as part of philosophy. So
philosophy is full of progress.
Philosophical problems arise
within science as well as outside it. The interpretation of quantum
mechanics is a scientific question that admits no simple
experimental resolution. We need a coherent theory to accommodate
Philosophical issues typically have the form of a
paradox. Scientific theories can be infected by paradox too. The
quantum wave packet must collapse, but this violates physical law.
Here philosophical methods are called for, to figure out where our
thinking is leading us astray.
One of the great scandals of
our time is the way physicists have brushed the problems of quantum
mechanics under the carpet. Generations of students were told that
the glaring inconsistencies apparent in the theory were none of
their business. Shut up and calculate was the line.
people dislike banging their heads against nasty paradoxes. But
someone has to do it. Philosophers take on the hard questions.
AR Quantum paradoxes? I'm onto them.
2017 June 11
Did Higgs Blow Up The Universe?
The universe began as a hot speck of energy
and inflated quantum fluctuations to form stars and galaxies.
1 Fedor Bezrukov and Mikhail
Shaposhnikov show how the Higgs boson could be the inflaton. The
Higgs field could have inflated the tiny cosmos exponentially, in a
fraction of a second, by nearly as much as it did in the following
13.8 billion years. The Higgs potential curve is shaped like a dip
with a bump in the middle. The Higgs comes to rest in the dip to one
side and gives mass to other particles. If the side of the dip has
a flat shelf around it, the Higgs could sit there and flood the
universe with extreme antigravity.
Juan García-Bellido says a tweaked Higgs potential implies a second
scalar particle, the dilaton. The expansion of the universe is
accelerating, and the dilaton field could provide the boost to
expansion. The dilaton would prevent the Higgs mass from dilating
too much but itself would be massless. Dark energy would be its main
effect in the universe.
Alexander Kusenko says the Higgs field could have been much stronger
during inflation. As the field relaxed, it could distinguish between
particles and antiparticles, leaving more matter than antimatter,
which would otherwise have annihilated each other to leave an empty
AR Neat — three wins at
2017 June 10
Deal with the DUP
BBC, 1951 BST
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has
agreed in principle a "confidence and supply" deal to support a
Deal with the DUP?
Theresa May is in talks with the
Party in Northern Ireland about forming a minority government.
The DUP holds 10 of Northern Ireland's 18 Westminster seats. DUP
leader Arlene Foster is keen to avoid a hard border with Ireland and
has spoken against a hard Brexit.
DUP chief whip Jeffrey
Donaldson: "This is perfect territory for the DUP because obviously
if the Conservatives are just short of an overall majority it puts
us in a very strong negotiating position. Certainly that is one we
would take up with relish."
Democratic Unionist Party
The DUP was founded by Ian
Paisley in 1971. The party opposed 1981 talks between Margaret
Thatcher and Irish prime minister Charles Haughey, and tried to
create a Protestant loyalist volunteer militia to fight the IRA. The
DUP opposed the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement.
Troubles, the DUP withdrew from the 1998 Good Friday Agreement in
protest when Sinn Fein was allowed to participate while the IRA had
not been disarmed. The DUP opposed the agreement in a subsequent
referendum in which 71% of the electorate approved the agreement.
The DUP is populist and socially conservative: it is
anti-abortion, opposes same-sex marriage, and formerly campaigned
against the legalisation of homosexual acts in Northern Ireland. It
aims to defend Ulster Protestant culture against Irish nationalism
and backs Brexit.
Independent described the DUP as backed by terrorists.
The New York
Times called it a hard-line reactionary party.
Form British National Unity Government
Theresa May had decided that
Britain would never accept free movement of people or the authority
of the European Court of Justice. The UK would not remain in the
single market or even the customs union. Beyond that, her message
was — trust me and I will deliver.
The voters have said no.
But the Brexit negotiations are set to begin in less than a
fortnight. The talks cannot simply be kicked into the long grass
until the Conservative party elects a new leader. None of the
obvious successors seem likely to be unifying figures, and another
general election would probably only confirm a deeply divided
The Brexit negotiations put a high premium on having
a government that can speak firmly and unequivocally. A national
unity government, made up of ministers from both major parties,
would create a stronger negotiating position — with a softer vision
AR Forming a NUG next week
will be hard on the whips.
May Must Share Power
● Theresa May has governed
mainly through powerful cabinet committees and through her two
chiefs of staff, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill. Now both are gone, she
needs one new chief of staff who can command authority in the
● May has treated cabinet
members as instruments of her will. She should appoint a deputy
prime minister and co-govern with the Chancellor, the home
secretary, the foreign secretary, the Brexit secretary, the chief
whip, and a new party chairman.
● May needs to work more
closely with the 1922 Committee chair Graham Brady. She needs to
bring policy making closer to MPs and the Conservative Policy Forum.
The 1922 Committee should be represented on the Downing Street
● May should invite the
Scottish Conservative party leader Ruth Davidson to attend Political
Cabinet, just as Boris Johnson did when he was Mayor of London.
● Assuming that May can form a
workable minority government, she needs to try to gain as much
support as possible across the party divide.
May We Criticize?
Theresa May shunned others and tried to make a
virtue of it. She had no political friends. But her real failure was
to misunderstand the country she wanted to lead.
people to vote for her so that she might "fulfill the promise of
Brexit" and to strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations. She
portrayed the Brussels bureaucrats as intent on frustrating her
attempt to free the UK from their deadening clutches. Her language
became increasingly confrontational as she hinted at something close
to a diplomatic war with the EU.
But we are not at war on the
continent. Neither are we in a position to show up at international
meetings and dominate. And yet this seemed to be the entirety of her
Brexit plan. Britain would simply state its demands and the
Europeans would agree to them — or no deal.
May seemed to
think that what people needed was to be told off and shoved in the
right direction. When she took office, she immediately set up two
vast new government departments: one to negotiate Brexit, the other
to hammer out new trade deals. Brexit was a sort of nationalism,
where everyone knew that Britain was supreme and foreigners were to
The prime minister wanted to sail the ship of
state into a future that looked very much like its glorious past.
Her worldview is fifty years out of date.
AR Before the Summer of Love?
Theresa May miscalculated badly in calling an election. She then
mismanaged the conduct of the election. She has lost public trust
and lost her authority to govern. In its merciless and underhand
way, the incoming parliamentary Conservative Party will soon be
making that clear to her. So let the sane centrists find their
collective voice now before the Europhobes and their opportunist
hitchhikers like Boris Johnson mobilize.
AR Parris detests Boris.
2017 June 9
Weak and Wobbly
As the election approached, May repeated her slogan
"strong and stable" ad nauseam, to the point that it became a joke.
The reasonable response to the election results would be for her to
resign. But Brexit negotiations are set to begin on June 19.
The front between the UK and the EU27 member states has
hardened. A Brexit without an agreement would be bitter for the EU
but disastrous for the UK. Britain could use a strong and stable
Europe Must Act
When it comes to Brexit the UK is like a
child that just will not see reason. The EU must therefore start
preparing to impose its own solution.
The Brexit referendum
campaign was waged with lies, manipulation and delusional promises,
leading millions of Britons to vote for an option that was not on
the menu: have cake and eat it.
This election could have been
the moment when Britain made a choice between have cake and sail
into hard Brexit or eat cake and accept all the rules of the single
This was not what Labour or the Conservatives
offered. Both all but avoided Brexit during the campaign. This is
the state of denial that Britain is still in.
afford to risk the integrity and coherence of the single market by
giving Britain a sweet deal. But nor can it risk total economic
meltdown in the UK.
The Evening Standard
Theresa May has been forced into a
deal with Northern Ireland MPs to save her from an ignominious
departure from 10 Downing Street.
May: "Having secured the
largest number of votes it is clear that only the Conservative and
Unionist Party has the certainty and legitimacy commanding a
majority in the House of Commons."
Conservative MPs seethed
that she had tossed away her Commons majority in a catastrophic
gamble. Many thought she would be out in two years or less.
May is now in talks with the Democratic Unionist Party. The DUP is
expected to drive a hard bargain as May rang its leader to strike
the sort of bargain she had jeered at as a "coalition of chaos".
The Commons was divided as follows: Conservatives, 318 (-12);
Labour, 261 (+29); SNP, 35 (-21); Liberal Democrats, 12 (+4); DUP,
10 (+2); Others, 13. One seat is yet to call. Turnout was 32,159,240
(68.74%). UKIP was crushed and its leader quit.
A night of
shock sent sterling plunging 2% against the dollar and the euro as
the world weighed the implications for Brexit negotiations.
Donald Tusk tweet:
We don't know when Brexit talks start. We
know when they must end. Do your best to avoid a "no deal" as result
of "no negotiations".
Instant karma ..
Theresa May's gamble on a snap election failed. She has not won
a majority, but she remains prime minister until she either attempts
and fails to form a government or she resigns.
Conservatives will remain in government until it is agreed who will
try to form a new government or unless May resigns. She will have
the first go at assembling a majority.
Frantic talks are
expected over coming days as parties scramble to try and agree
deals. A new government must test whether it can command the
confidence of the House.
The Queen's speech is scheduled for
Monday June 19. Brexit talks are also set to begin on June 19.
"Wow. So good Labour stronger. So good Brutal Brexit rejected.
So good next generation realized the stakes and spoke up."
"Theresa May anointed herself Empress of Brexit.
Now her authority is shot."
Khor Al Adaid, Qatar
The New York Times
President Trump has taken sides with
Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states to bully Qatar.
the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen cut ties to Qatar mainly because
Qatar has a relationship with Shiite Iran.
On Wednesday, Daesh
claimed responsibility for deadly attacks in Tehran at the Iranian
parliament and the Khomeini mausoleum.
Qatar hosts the forward HQ
of US Central Command, a major intelligence hub, and a big US air
There is no sign that Trump has thought any of this
"You don't win a culture war
Conflict wanted. Goals
wanted. Dreams wanted.
a story I want
to be part of."
"I want us to have a decent
and harmonious community
Britain .. The best way of
dealing with a negative
Zeit, die Indoktrination mit
wirkungsvoll zu bekämpfen
More London horror
"The EU remains the most extraordinary,
liberal political alliance in
recorded history. It
seen unprecedented peace
and prosperity for 70 years.
It is the dream trading bloc
and a heroic project."
"The European Union must
resist the temptation to
Britain and approach
the negotiations in a
Britain is a parliamentary
democracy. Within five years
it has to hold another general
election and the next
may vote to be
reunited with Europe."
2017 June 8
Beginning: Brexit Catastrophe
The electorate is going to the polls today in a state of
blissful ignorance over the catastrophe that is about to hit the UK.
Theresa May called
an election to give herself a mandate for her version of Brexit. She
has told the electorate nothing new about how she intends to do it,
about how Britons will be poorer and more highly taxed if she keeps
to her plan to leave both the single market and the customs union,
or the devastation that will follow if she walks away from the table
without a deal. Her victory will be based on evasion and soothing
Her decision to interpret 52% as licence for a hard
Brexit is as outrageous as if the Remainers had won a narrow victory
and immediately decided to join the euro, the Schengen travel area,
and an EU army, declaring that no discussion was needed because this
was the people's will.
For a year we have been in a phoney
Brexit. Six months ago we were the fastest-growing economy in the
G7, but figures from the G7 last week show we are tying with Italy
for the slowest growth as the EZ forges ahead of us. HM Treasury
says an agreed Brexit will make us £36 billion a year poorer by 2032
and a no-deal exit will cost £45 billion.
May and her people
view the EU as opponents. Under her government the Brexit fires are
starting to burn.
2017 June 7
White House advisers HR McMaster and Gary
Cohn write: "The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a
clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a 'global community' but an
arena where nations, non-governmental actors and businesses engage
and compete for advantage. We bring to this forum unmatched
military, political, economic, cultural and moral strength. Rather
than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace
Earth is not just an arena. It is our shared home. It
does not belong to one nation, even a powerful one. Looking after
the planet is the moral responsibility of all.
AR Wolf is right, of course.
Theresa May has had trouble spelling out what
a post-EU Britain would look like. Brexiteers propose recapturing
the spirit of an earlier Elizabethan age, when plucky English
buccaneers forged pathways to the New World. This is a delusion.
The elites, not the people, have led the British retreat from
Europe and the world. Most of them started their careers as student
political hacks, and the ties they forged nourished their political
careers. What they lacked in global experience they substituted with
Brussels could cope with a nasty divorce.
Britain could not. Yet May
seems to be going out of her way to rub the Europeans the wrong way.
Thanks to her, the EU27 are now of one mind.
AR May must see this.
2017 June 6
Islamist terrorism is not a perversion of Islam.
The West equates religion with spirituality. But Islam is as much a
political ideology as a source of spiritual guidance.
Mohammad Tawhidi: "The scriptures are exactly what is pushing these
people to behead the infidel. Our books teach the beheading of
Jihadist Islam is dominant once again in the Muslim
world. Islamists believe their values represent the word of God. For
them, no other values can possibly be superior.
We must see
jihadist Islam as at the extreme end of a continuum of beliefs that
are incompatible with British society. We should close down radical
mosques, deport those born in other countries who are involved in
extremism, stop foreign funding for Muslim institutions, and ban the
Muslim Brotherhood. We should also outlaw Sharia courts.
Jihadist terrorists are not trying to divide us, destroy our values,
or stop the general election. They are trying to kill us and conquer
AR Islamism is a global
military threat. Kill the jihadis before they kill us. And forget
the British spin — they threaten all Western societies. Unite or be
For a long time I could not bring myself to
write about the British election. The June 8 vote was a formality.
The Labour Party was in meltdown. The British, their ludicrous vote
to leave the European Union gradually sinking in, would give May her
Suddenly, we have an election after all. The
expected Tory landslide has evaporated. May embraced a hard Brexit
and came up with a dementia tax to punish people for living too
long. Opinion polls now put Corbyn within a few percentage points of
A Labour victory would punish the Tories for the
disaster of Brexit.
AR It would
also lead to chaos and confusion — economic mayhem, loss of control
of national debt, rank amateurs in government, weakness on Russia
and Islam — not good.
2017 June 5
We are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face.
Perpetrators are copying one another and often using crude means of
attack. Things need to change:
The recent attacks are connected by the evil ideology of Islamist
extremism. It is an ideology that claims our western values are
incompatible with Islam. It will only be defeated when we make
people understand that our values are superior to anything offered
by the preachers and supporters of hate.
2 We cannot allow this ideology the safe
space it needs to breed. We need to work with allied democratic
governments to prevent the spread of extremism. And we need to do
everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online.
3 There is far too much tolerance of
extremism in our country. We need to become far more robust in
identifying it and stamping it out across the public sector and
across society. The whole of our country needs to come together to
take on this extremism.
4 We have
a robust counter-terrorism strategy. We need to review our strategy
to make sure the police and security services have all the powers
they need. We may need to increase the length of custodial sentences
for terrorist-related offences.
Our country has made progress
in disrupting plots and protecting the public. Our society should
continue to function in accordance with our values. We must come
together, we must pull together, and united we will take on and
defeat our enemies.
AR United in
solidarity with other Europeans facing the same threat.
2017 June 4
Erik Hoel has published an
essay that aims to explain how consciousness and agency arise.
He claims that causes can emerge at macroscopic scales, and that
macro states of a physical system such as a brain can have more
causal power than a micro description of the system.
shows that macro scales gain causal power rather like
error-correcting codes increase the amount of information that can
be sent over data channels. Macro states reduce noise and
uncertainty in a causal structure, making system behavior more
Giulio Tononi conceives of consciousness as
information encoded not in the states of individual neurons but in
the complex networking of neurons into ensembles in the brain. His
integrated information theory (IIT) aims to characterize
Tononi tasked Hoel with exploring the
mathematical relationship between the size of neural groups and
information. Hoel quantified the causal power of brain states by
measuring causation in bits. His measure, effective information
(EI), is simpler and more general than integrated information.
Scott Aaronson: "It was hard for me to find anything in the
essay that the world's most orthodox reductionist would disagree
with. Yes, of course you want to pass to higher abstraction layers
in order to make predictions, and to tell causal stories that are
predictively useful — and the essay explains some of the reasons
Physicists say causation starts with interactions
between elementary particles. It originates at the micro level and
is merely easier to discuss at the macro level.
AR I tried to explain my
Mindworlds model of
consciousness to Aaronson at TSC
2001 (Skoevde) and to Tononi at
ASSC XIII (Berlin,
2017 June 3
On Earth, 4 billion years of evolution led
eventually to technology and the world we live in today. The
direction of travel is almost certainly toward a posthuman world.
After a few millennia of gradually expanding technology generated by
human beings, maybe there will be billions of years more when the
dominant technology is entirely inorganic.
Mars is far less
clement than the South Pole, and not many people want to live there.
Robots are becoming more sophisticated, and all the science can be
done by robots just as well as by human beings. Huge fabricators up
in space will assemble telescope dishes and solar energy collectors.
The collective effect that we are having as a species is causing
changes to the atmosphere and the climate. A second class of threats
arises because the world of things is more interconnected. The
biotechnology issue is scary too.
Scientific advisors have a
limited impact on political leaders. The Pope raised concerns about
the risks to biodiversity and to climate from the heavier footprint
of the rising human population and said people have an obligation to
nature. That statement was an important input to the Paris
conference on climate change in December 2015.
Brexit is the most important single
development in British foreign policy since declaring war on Germany
in 1939, and arguably the worst unforced error ever in British
Britain is leaving the EU on the absurd assumption
that the EU-27 will give it a sweetheart deal. Since 1940, the UK
has ridden tall on US power, but this free ride is gone with America
AR Millions of British
voters expressed indifference or contempt for the European idea in June 2016.
Nationally, this was a shameful revelation of factual ignorance and moral
2017 June 2
A Disgraceful Exit
The New York Times
President Trump has an incredibly
shortsighted approach to climate change. He said the Paris agreement
was a bad deal for the United States. Yet it is a voluntary
agreement under which more than 190 countries offered aspirational
emissions targets, pledged their best efforts to meet them, and
agreed to give periodic updates on how they were doing.
clearly knows nothing or cares little about the science underlying
the stark warnings of environmental disruption, about the problems
that disruption could bring, or about the fact that America has a
special obligation to help the rest of the world address these
Trump clings to the false narrative that
environmental regulations are job killers, that efforts to curb
carbon dioxide emissions will hurt the economy, that the way forward
lies in yet more burning of fossil fuels. Yet the global transition
from fossil fuels has opened up a huge market estimated at $6
trillion by 2030, for renewable fuels, electric cars, and new
Big economic benefits flow from protecting
human health and the environment. Technologies are improving and the
business community is ready. About two-thirds of Americans are
worried about climate change and wanted to stay in the Paris
The Weather Channel greeted the White House news
with every ounce of righteous outrage it deserved. Its top nine
stories were all devoted to the topic. Two of them covered the
announcement. The other seven methodically explained exactly why it was so misguided and why it
The Weather Channel network has concluded
that climate change poses a threat that transcends partisan
politics. Its stories illustrated the damage climate change is
poised to wreak and gave a science-based refutation of the
notion that the threat is overstated or hypothetical.
Third LIGO Detection
The LIGO collaboration has made its third
observation of gravitational waves emanating from a pair of merging
black holes. This pair was about 3 billion light years away.
LIGO detects ripples in spacetime caused by moving masses. The spins
of merging black holes can warp those waveforms, which are mostly
produced by their orbits and eventual collision.
first event, we did not have enough information to determine spin
direction of the black holes. For the second, we saw that each black
hole was probably spinning in the same direction. For this third
pair, they are probably spinning in different directions.
Black hole binaries are either born together from a pair of orbiting stars or
they form separately in a stellar cluster and drift
together. In the first case, the pair should rotate in the same
direction as they orbit. In the second, they can point in any
2017 June 1
Global Enemy #1
pulls America out of the Paris agreement.
Zooming the Sun
Parker Solar Probe will swoop to within 6 Gm of the surface of
the Sun, facing heat and radiation like no spacecraft before it.
Launching in 2018, PSP will provide new data on solar activity and
increase our ability to forecast major space weather events that
impact life on Earth.
explores the last and most important region of the solar system to
be visited by a scientific spacecraft. The National
Academy of Sciences estimates that without advance warning a huge
solar event could cause $2 trillion in damage in the United States
Physics of Time
General Relativity and the Standard Model are
based on time-symmetric laws. The eternal cosmos spanning all of
spacetime is sometimes called the block universe.
Andreas Albrecht says that to understand the distinction between
past, present and future, you have to ask how an observer perceives
Avshalom Elitzur: "The future does not exist ..
Ontologically, it's not there."
Lee Smolin: "The future is
not now real and there can be no definite facts of the matter about
Sean Carroll: "The entropy of the universe will
be larger tomorrow than it is today. But if that was all you knew,
you'd also say that the entropy of the universe was probably larger
yesterday than today — because all the underlying dynamics are
completely symmetric with respect to time."
George Ellis says
the universe is a growing volume of spacetime. Its surface is the
present moment and represents the instant where the indefiniteness
of the future changes to the definiteness of the past. One can see
the direction of time by looking at which part of the universe is
fixed (the past) and which is changing (the future). This is a GR
block universe with a future boundary in the present.
Sorkin says that in causal set theory spacetime is discrete rather
than continuous. Planck scale atoms of spacetime form a partially
ordered set. The number of these atoms gives rise to the volume of
spacetime, while their sequence gives rise to time. New spacetime
atoms are continually coming into existence.
AR I'm writing a paper on the physics of time — and I pretty much agree with all the